Wizards-Raptors Preview

Both the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards remain in the

bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings, but neither team

is playing like it lately.

Continuing to surge after the acquisition of Rudy Gay, Toronto

will go for its seventh win in eight games Monday night when it

hosts Washington, which has won six of eight on the strength of an

improving offense. The Wizards are looking to snap a five-game

losing streak in Toronto and avenge Tuesday’s 96-88 home loss to

the Raptors.

The Raptors (23-33) are still four games out of the East’s

eighth spot, but they’re 7-3 since Gay arrived from Memphis. Not

only has Gay elevated Toronto’s play, but he’s been more productive

with his new team, averaging 21.4 points after putting up 17.2

through 42 games for the Grizzlies.

He scored a season-high 32 in a 100-98 win over New York on

Friday, taking over in the third quarter with 17 points on 7-of-9

shooting.

“You can give him the ball, he’s a guy who can get that big

bucket for you, he’s a guy who can shoot over the defense and make

plays, he has the ability to make those shots,” point guard Kyle

Lowry told the Raptors’ official website. “He doesn’t worry about

making or taking those shots, he thinks he’s going to make them

all.”

The Wizards (17-37) remain the NBA’s worst road team with a 4-22

mark, but they’ve won two in a row and 13 of 22 overall. They’re

11-4 when facing opponents that are at or above .500 in that

stretch, though they’re 2-5 against foes with losing records.

Washington still ranks last in the league with 92.0 ppg, but the

offense has made strides recently, averaging 99.0 points over the

last eight contests. The Wizards used a 54-34 edge on points in the

paint to overcome 19 3-pointers from Houston in a 105-103 home win

Saturday.

Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 11 rebounds for his third

double-double in five games. He’s averaging 15.6 points on 57.1

percent shooting along with 10.4 rebounds over that span.

“I thought Emeka played outstanding for us, again,” coach Randy

Wittman said. “He was doing the job down there when he was getting

the ball.”

While Gay has been getting the job done and quickly becoming

popular with fans in Toronto, support for Andrea Bargnani is

waning. Bargnani, who remains with the team despite rumors he could

be traded before last week’s deadline, was booed by the home crowd

Friday.

Bargnani has gone scoreless over 34 minutes in his last two

games and is averaging 6.0 points in seven contests since returning

from an elbow injury that sidelined him for nearly two months.

“I don’t think it’s fair just because a guy’s been hurt, he’s

been out,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Let’s pull for him. If you’re a

fan, let’s be fans for our guys, not for the opposing team’s

guys.”

Bargnani had nine points on 4-of-7 shooting last week in

Washington while Gay and DeMar DeRozan each scored 24. Bradley Beal

finished with 25 points for the Wizards but John Wall struggled,

going 1 of 12 from the field and matching a season high with seven

turnovers.