Wizards Fall In Overtime
The Toronto Raptors signed Hedo Turkoglu in the offseason for moments like this.
With the game at Verizon Center looking very much as though it might take a second overtime to decide, Turkoglu, a key component in the Orlando Magic's run to the NBA Finals last season, streaked through the crowded mass of bodies in the paint, wrapped his hands around a pass from Jose Calderon and, in one motion, swished home a 20-footer on the baseline for a 109-107 lead.
The Wizards would get another shot after calling a timeout with 8.1 seconds remaining. And upon resumption of play they would get the ball to Gilbert Arenas, who was isolated to the right of the goal against Jarrett Jack.
Arenas, known to drill a game-winning 3-pointer in situations like this in the past, drove hard to the basket but failed to score the contested layup. Wizards forward Andray Blatche grabbed the rebound but was unsuccessful with the putback as time ran out in the Raptors' 109-107 overtime victory.
"We got a chance to win it on the inbounds pass, got the ball to Hedo and he did what he does," Toronto coach Jay Triano said of the shot that ended the Raptors' five-game losing streak. "And I hope he does it a whole lot more."
While Turkoglu provided the biggest moment for the Raptors, this was a team victory in every sense of the word. All five starters scored in double-figures, led by forward Chris Bosh's team-high 31 points. Bosh also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds for the Raptors. Turkoglu added 20 points and collected nine boards. Andrea Bargnani and rookie guard DeMar DeRozen, both scored 16. Bargnani added nine rebounds.
The Raptors shared the ball also, collecting 25 assists on the night.
"We needed a win no matter what," Turkoglu said. "We showed that we can play defense too. We are not going to score 100, 110, 120 every night. We have to get stops and get rebounds and get wins like this. As long as we are doing everything a little bit we are going to be successful. Hopefully we can play another big game tomorrow night [at Chicago] and go back home with another win."
Washington, still in search of its first three-game winning streak since it won three in a row in early April of 2008, came out against a team that had allowed its previous 11 foes to score at least 100 points, the Wizards shot just 5-for-25 from the field (20 percent) and fell behind 22-7 with five minutes to play in the first quarter.
"In games like these everyone tends to focus on what happened at the end, but it's not just about the ending. We lost the game in the first quarter. We cannot continue to start games like that. We cannot come out with that type of energy," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said.
Led by Arenas' game-high 34 points, the Wizards shot the ball much better in the final two quarters of the game. And with five minutes left in regulation, following a pair of Brendan Haywood (16 rebounds) free throws, the Wizards led 86-80. Bosh put the Raptors back on top in the fourth quarter when he converted a pair of free throws for a 96-94 advantage. Arenas pulled the game even at 96 when he hit a running 17-footer with 13.7 seconds remaining. Turkoglu had a chance to win it in regulation but his 26-footer with time expiring missed wildly.
However, the Raptors had momentum on their side going into overtime. Losers of five games in a row in which they played little defense -- the string of losses included giving up 146 points against Atlanta -- the Raptors needed to upend the Wizards, a team that was trying to win for the fifth time in the last six games.
"We have a tendency to hang our heads," Triano said. "But once they had that lead we didn't hang our heads. Guys seemed very positive and energized. It was like they felt we were going to win the game. I don't think anyone is happy with where we are, but I think these guys have started to realize that you have to do the little things. Tonight we did them and it worked."