Raptors-Wizards Preview

The Washington Wizards continue to be plagued by injuries but
are hoping to have two of their best players active in a matchup
with the Toronto Raptors.

With both Andray Blatche and Nick Young questionable, the
Wizards will look for a season high-tying third consecutive home
victory when they host the Raptors on Saturday night.

Washington (10-27) fell to 0-19 on the road with a 109-97 loss
to Minnesota on Thursday night as Blatche, averaging a team-best
16.1 points and 8.2 rebounds, sat out with a shoulder injury.

Following a career-high 43-point performance in Tuesday’s
overtime win against Sacramento, Young shot 5 of 14 from the field
and finished with 15 points.

Young, however, felt pain in his left knee after the loss and
was unable to practice Friday. The Wizards would certainly miss
him, as Young is averaging 25.9 points and has made 20 of 42
3-point attempts (47.6 percent) in his last seven home games.

John Wall had 14 points and 10 assists against Minnesota, but
Wizards coach Flip Saunders wants to see the No. 1 overall pick
from the 2010 draft shoot more.

“I talked to John, he was a reluctant shooter (Thursday),”
Saunders said. “He had 15-foot shots, I said ‘I don’t care if you
miss 17 of those, you have to take that shot, that’s your
shot.'”

While the Wizards haven’t had any success on the road, they’ve
won four of six at home, and Blatche hopes his team can continue
that trend.

“For some reason, we always take advantage of games at home, we
always come in with a lot of energy and take care of business at
home,” said Blatche. “So hopefully guys come with the right mindset
and come aggressive and jump on (the Raptors) early.”

The Wizards had lost three straight home meetings with the
Raptors by a combined nine points prior to a 109-94 victory Nov. 16
as Blatche and Young combined for 42 points.

Toronto (13-26) is coming off a 101-95 loss to Detroit on Friday
night despite another strong effort from leading scorer Andrea
Bargnani.

Bargnani recorded 31 points and has averaged 29.0 in his last
three games – 7.1 more than his season average. However, he has
struggled in Washington throughout his career, scoring just 11.5
points per game on 32.4 percent shooting over six contests.

After the Raptors surrendered at least 60 points in the first
half for the fourth time in five games, DeMar DeRozan knows that
his team – which has lost 15 of 20 – needs to bring a better
defensive effort early on.

“I think it’s a lack of energy at the beginning of the game,”
said DeRozan. “Once we see teams jump out on us, then everybody
decides to play. We have to go out there with that attitude from
the gate.”

Leandro Barbosa was averaging 20.3 points in his previous four
games but was held to two Friday before leaving with a strained
right hamstring.

Barbosa will not travel with the Raptors to Washington as they
embark on a difficult five-game road trip, which features games
against New Orleans, San Antonio, Orlando and Miami following
Saturday’s contest.

Toronto, 5-14 on the road, is averaging 113.0 points allowed
during its last four away from home.