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Raptors Edged By Wizards To Open Road Trip

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January 15, 2011

WASHINGTON (CP) -- As the season nears the midway point, the Washington Wizards have forged a firm identity. They can't beat anyone on the road, and they can only beat bad teams at home.

But three straight struggling teams have visited the nation's capital, so the Wizards have a three-game home winning streak. Nick Young, whose home-and-road stats are as Jeckyll-and-Hyde as anybody's, scored 18 of his 29 points in the third quarter Saturday night in a 98-95 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

``Right now he's got an unbelievable comfort level as far as at home,'' Washington coach Flip Saunders said. ``We've got to get him to bring that killer instinct offensively on the road.''

The Wizards improved to 11-8 at the Verizon Center, hardly enough to offset their 0-19 mark elsewhere. Furthermore, none of the 11 victories has come against teams with winning records entering Saturday's play, and even most of those wins haven't been easy. They blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead against the Raptors before holding on, just four days after blowing a late lead in an overtime win over Sacramento.

Young is averaging 18.8 points when he's at home, 13.3 when he's not. His plus-minus rating for the season is plus-36 at home and minus-121 away. He had 43 at home against the Kings on Tuesday, and Saturday's effort came despite a 1-for-8 start from the field and a sore left knee.

``I came out too pumped,'' Young said, ``trying to get my knee going and all that.''

Young ended up making 10-of-19 field goals, including eight in a row at one point. He scored the Wizards' first 13 points of the second half, all jumpers from at least 15 feet, and he went 5 for 6 from the free throw line in the final 18 seconds.

``I don't know how much I can fault our guys. I don't think that he had many open looks,'' Toronto coach Jay Triano said. ``There were guys right there, and he made some tough shots.''

Young even had four assists, one away from his career high. He said he was getting himself ready to help out teammate JaVale McGee in the NBA's slam dunk contest next month.

``It's going to be in L.A.,'' Young said. ``I just need my face on TV a little bit.''

Andray Blatche, back after missing one game with a sprained right shoulder, had 17 points and 13 rebounds on the night his bobblehead was the featured giveaway. McGee had 10 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks for the Wizards, and Yi Jianlian made all five of his field goals to score 10 points.

No. 1 overall pick John Wall had a tentative night: 4 for 14, three points, nine assists and five turnovers. He said he found it hard to get a grip on the ball because of the padding he's wearing on his left hand to protect a floor burn from a recent game.

Andrea Bargnani had 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and Jose Calderon added 21 points, 15 assists and tied a career high with nine rebounds for the Raptors, who opened a five-game road trip without guard Leandro Barbosa. Barbosa is expected to miss one to two weeks after straining his right hamstring in Friday night's loss to Detroit.

Toronto also did not dress Jerryd Bayless, who has now missed four of eight games with a sore left ankle. Sonny Weems, Peja Stojakovic and Reggie Evans remain out with longer-term injuries.

``We knew it was only going to be, like, seven or eight players we had out there,'' Calderon said. ``We knew we'd have to play a lot of minutes. We played good for a long time. Maybe at the end the legs didn't respond as well as we needed to.''

The Wizards lost their fourth-quarter lead when Bargnani scored seven points in a 12-2 run, tying the score at 79 with 8:10 to play. Washington got the lead back to six several times, including at 92-86 after a fadeaway jumper by Blatche. A layup by Ed Davis and a tough leaner in traffic by Calderon cut the lead to two with less than a minute to play, but the Wizards got a lucky out-of-bounds carom after a missed jumper by Wall.

The Raptors began fouling, and Young made enough free throws to keep the lead safe.

``In a back-to-back where we have so many guys hurt,'' Triano said, ``our margin for error isn't very good.''

Notes: Wizards G-F Josh Howard will see a specialist Monday about his sore left knee and isn't expected to play for at least five days after that. Howard had surgery on the knee last season, and it started bothering him again in late December. ... Neither team led by more than 10 points.