Raptors, Wizards tangle north of the border
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two teams separated by three games in the Eastern Conference standings clash Thursday north of the border, as the Toronto Raptors play host to the Washington Wizards.
The Raptors are third in the East behind Indiana and Miami, while the Wizards are three games behind the Atlantic Division leaders in the fifth spot.
Toronto is five games ahead of Brooklyn in the Atlantic and will also host Golden State and Sacramento on the homestand. It has won three straight and six of seven games, including Tuesday's 99-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
DeMar DeRozan poured in 33 points, Terrence Ross netted 19 and Kyle Lowry added 13 points with nine assists for the Raptors, who found a way to win despite shooting 44.3 percent and making 10-of-32 3-pointers. Lowry scored 14 or more points in eight straight games from Feb. 5-23, then was held to a point below that mark against the Cavs.
"You're not going to have great games all the time, you're not going to shoot 10-for-12 or 20-for-30. You're always going to have some type of off-game," Lowry said. "You can't let that stop you from helping your team win a game. I wasn't making my shots, but I know I can still help the team."
The Raptors are 11-3 at home since Jan. 1 and 16-11 at Air Canada Centre. They have also held their opponent under 100 points in a season high-tying six consecutive games. Toronto is 27-7 when doing that this season.
Meanwhile, DeRozan is averaging 25.7 ppg in February for the Raptors, who are ensured of a winning record for a third month in a row. Toronto was 8-6 in December, 11-6 in January and currently has a 7-4 mark in February.
Washington enters the great white north on a four-game winning streak.
The Wizards, who will also visit Philadelphia on its quick quest, disposed of the Orlando Magic 115-106 on Tuesday thanks to four players with 20-plus points. John Wall led the Wizards with 27 points, Trevor Ariza had 22 and both Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal netted 21.
"I thought we came out really energized. We got great performances from everybody," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman.
The Wizards, who made 52.5 percent from the field and hit 10-of-16 3-pointers, led by as many as 17 a day after learning forward Nene would miss around six weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
Washington is 11-6 in its last 17 road games and is averaging 99.8 ppg in that stretch. Wall has 18.6 points and 7.8 assists over that time. The Wizards are 14-14 overall away from D.C. this season.
Toronto has defeated Washington three times already this season and is unbeaten in four straight and six of the last eight meetings between the teams. The Wizards haven't succeeded much lately in Canada, losing seven of eight and 11 of the past 15 trips there.