Wizards use `D' to stifle Raptors, 86-60

29-4 run in 2nd period key

winners set team mark for fewest points allowed

November 08, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - It's a good thing Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan listens to his assistant coaches or the Toronto Raptors would have been in even bigger trouble last night.

Jordan wanted to hit the Raptors with a burst of defensive energy right off the bat last night, but his assistants suggested that he wait until late in the first period or the second before turning up the defensive pressure.

As it happened, the Wizards held the Raptors to a Washington franchise low in blitzing Toronto, 86-60, before a sellout crowd at MCI Center.

"We had a game plan, but geez, I didn't think it was going to be that effective," said Jordan. "I think it could have been a combination of them having an emotional game last night and traveling here. It really truly wasn't the real Toronto Raptors out there."

The Wizards (3-2) followed Wednesday's dominance of the Dallas Mavericks with an even more impressive display. Washington managed not to step on itself on offense, while shutting down the Raptors (3-2) defensively, notching a franchise record for fewest points scored by an opponent.

"We just kept up the momentum," said guard Gilbert Arenas. "We knew they would come out there at their pace, but we tried to throw something at them, to keep them off-guard. It worked."

The 60 points scored by the Raptors was the fewest by a Wizards opponent in the 42-year history of the franchise, dating back to its creation in Chicago and its days in Baltimore. The previous low was a 65-point performance by the Miami Heat last Nov. 16, also in Washington.

In the process, the Wizards also set a new franchise record for fewest points allowed in a half, as well as the fewest in a quarter, as they held the Raptors to 23 points in the first half and four points in the second quarter.

Toronto, meanwhile, set six team records for offensive ineptitude. The Raptors were coming off a big home win Thursday, also over the Mavericks, but the Wizards' defense had a lot to do with their futility.

"This team [Toronto] wants to grind it out and have a low scoring game," said Wizards reserve forward Jared Jeffries. "Our game plan was to come out and just go at them and pressure them and make them shoot quick shots. Even if they had an open shot, we wanted to get a hand in their face."

For a second straight Friday night, the Wizards held the Raptors to a franchise-low for a first half - 23 points - surpassing the 27 at Air Canada Centre. The points were also the lowest total for any half in Toronto history, eclipsing the 24 the Raptors scored in the second half against the Timberwolves last Saturday in Minnesota.

The Raptors missed their first nine shots in the second quarter, until Vince Carter hit a baseline jumper with 4:52 remaining, covering an eight-minute scoreless span. And while the Raptors shot horrendously - 2-for-16 in the period - the Wizards played exceptional team defense and outscored Toronto 29-4 in the quarter.

"That [the run] is unbelievable," said Jeffries. "They're a great team and they missed a lot of shots that they'll make most nights, so the next time we play them, we have to limit some of their open looks."

But unlike last Friday, when the Raptors out-rebounded the Wizards and beat them, 82-79, Washington maintained a big lead and extended it into the second half.

"We had something to prove," said Larry Hughes, who led five Washington players in double figures with 16 points. "We went up there [last Friday] and beat them in every part of the game except rebounding. We knew that it was a game that we should have won, so we don't want to give games away that we play well in, or well enough to win.

"We just wanted to come out and be aggressive and make them play our style of basketball. We just wanted to be disruptive."

Wizards tonight

Opponent:Cleveland Cavaliers

Site:Gund Arena, Cleveland

Time:7:35

TV/Radio:Comcast SportsNet/WTNT (570 AM)

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