Atlantic-leading Raptors head to Washington
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors will continue their march to the Atlantic Division title on Tuesday night when they visit the Verizon Center to face the Washington Wizards.
The Raptors won two straight before the All-Star break and lead the Atlantic Division by 3 1/2 games over the Brooklyn Nets. Toronto is third in the Eastern Conference behind only the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.
The Raptors bested the New Orleans Pelicans and Atlanta Hawks before the break. They have lost two straight on the road, but play three consecutive games at the Air Canada Centre after Tuesday.
DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points to lead the Raps to a 104-83 victory Wednesday over the Hawks. Four other Toronto players scored in double figures as the Raptors committed only eight turnovers.
DeRozan continued his fine season down in New Orleans where he scored eight points in his first All-Star game appearance.
"It was a great experience," DeRozan said after the game. "To go out there and have fun with the league's best and be in that same category is great. It was good to go out there and play with those guys."
The Wizards limped into the All-Star break a bit, the losers of two straight, both on the road. Washington lost to Memphis and Houston by a combined five points, although it has dropped four of five overall and two of three at home.
The Houston loss was heart-breaking. The Wizards had a two-point lead with four seconds left, but James Harden was fouled away from the ball and made the free-throw. Harden then split a pair of Washington defenders and made the layup for the win.
The break came at a good time, but the Wizards stayed in the headlines thanks to a dynamic weekend for their first-time All-Star.
John Wall started his All-Star weekend leading the Eastern Conference to the Slam Dunk title when he leaped over the Wizards mascot. He was named the Dunker of the Night, then scored 12 points in just over 15 minutes in the game on Sunday.
"I enjoyed myself," Wall said. "I think I represented myself and the Wizards well."
The Wizards play four of their next six on the road, where they've lost three straight.
The Raptors won both of this season's matchups with Washington, including a 13-point victory in Washington on Jan. 3. Toronto has won three in a row in this series and five of the last seven.