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DeRozan, Johnson Help Raptors Down Wizards

Box Score | Photo Gallery | Video: Game In Six | Triano | Bosh | Johnson | DeRozan | Belinelli | Amir's Jams
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October 11, 2009

TORONTO -- Raptors rookie DeMar DeRozan drove to the hoop for a couple of high-flying dunks, while Amir Johnson spent the afternoon wrangling rebounds.

DeRozan scored 19 points, while Johnson had a team-high 12 boards in Toronto's 100-93 pre-season victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday, a game that highlighted how athletic the new-look Raptors suddenly are this season.

``I think we have great athletes at pretty much every position,'' said captain Chris Bosh, who called this team the most athletic he's played on since his early days when Vince Carter was still a Raptor.

``We're athletic, and that's one of the things we have to realize and take advantage of, especially on defence and attacking the rim. That was one of our weaknesses last year, we settled for too many jump shots. When we play good defence and we're constantly trying to attack the basket, that puts us in better position to get easy baskets. . . and it builds confidence, because no matter what happens you just want to see the ball go through the net.''

Marco Belinelli added 15 points for Toronto (2-2), while Jose Calderon had 12. Reggie Evans and Jarrett Jack finished with 10 points apiece, and Evans added seven boards.

Antawn Jamison had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards (1-2), while Gilbert Arenas added 14 points and seven assists.

Sonny Weems had six boards and four points in 10 energetic first-quarter minutes but had to leave the game after jamming his big toe.

DeRozan, 20, was impressive at times, showing off his athleticism with a huge tomahawk dunk in the fourth quarter. Then he came seemingly out of nowhere for a putback jam that brought the Air Canada Centre crowd of 11,936 to its feet with just under two minutes to play. He also went to the free throw line 10 times, making nine shots.

``I really want to get to the line, first two games I wasn't as aggressive as I wanted to be,'' DeRozan said. ``It's getting really comfortable, my confidence is getting higher and higher every game. I want to try to keep that going.''

DeRozan played a team-high 36 minutes as the rookie gets accustomed to the NBA game before the real season starts later this month. He still has plenty to learn however, and coach Jay Triano had to call the youngster off several times to correct mistakes.

``The good thing is he is a great learner,'' Triano said. ``The kid listens and I think that is what is going to make him a great basketball player.''

The revamped Raptors, with nine new faces on the roster this season, trailed 74-70 heading into the fourth quarter, but with a lineup entirely made up of newcomers for most of the quarter, took over the game in the dying minutes. DeRozan's putback dunk gave Toronto an eight-point lead with 1:58 to play, and Jack's two free throws with 29 seconds left guaranteed the Raptors' win.

Toronto shot 39 per cent on the afternoon, while the Wizards shot 44 per cent. But Toronto outrebounded the Wizards 49-41 and went to the free throw line 19 more times than Washington, accounting for 36 of their points.

Triano was impressed with his team's hustle, playing its fourth game in six nights.

``One of our goals is to get to the free throw line and be aggressive,'' Triano said. ``This was an early test for us, they had to play hard, they're not in mid-season form yet, and our guys, at least they competed through that.''

Bosh played 19 minutes as Triano eases the all-star forward back into action after he strained his hamstring earlier this month.

``(I'm) tired,'' Bosh said, noting that his hamstring is 100 per cent. ``I just have to get my timing back a little bit and the thing I'm most excited about is I still felt pretty good playing. Can't wait for the next one.''

The Raptors captain played 11 minutes in his pre-season debut on Friday, in what Triano deemed was a better performance than Sunday's

``But I think that's to be expected,'' Triano said. ``He's going to battle through some of this, and I told him when he was on the floor, `play as hard as you can for as long as you can, we're really not concerned at how well you play right now, that's going to come.'''

Off-season acquisition Hedo Turkoglu remains sidelined with various aches and pains after a long summer playing for Turkey, while Antoine Wright, who banged his knee in training camp, also has yet to play in the pre-season. Wright could play Wednesday when the Raptors face the Celtics in Boston, and Triano said Turkoglu will definitely make at least one pre-season appearance.

``I don't know which one or when or how many minutes we'll build up to, but for sure he'll play,'' Triano said.

Jamison poured in 12 points and grabbed five rebounds in the opening quarter as the Wizards led for most of the frame, but the Raptors finished with a 7-0 run to lead 23-20 heading into the second.

The Raptors shot just 29 per cent in the second quarter, but still stretched their lead to 11 points at the midway point. The Wizards battled back to cut Toronto's lead to 45-41 at halftime.

Arenas had 12 points to help the Wizards go up by seven points on Toronto late in the third quarter, and Washington went into the fourth leading 74-70.

NOTES:The Raptors wore pink and white pre-game shooting shirts in support of breast cancer awareness month. . .The Raptors are back home Thursday to host the Houston Rockets. They open the regular-season Oct. 28 versus the Cleveland Cavaliers at the ACC.