Two days ago, everything was going wrong for the Toronto Raptors.
They had given up 146 points in a loss at Atlanta – the second-most allowed in the team’s 15-year history – extending their losing streak to five games. Discontent led to a closed-door team meeting Friday morning.
On Friday night, Hedo Turkoglu’s jumper with 8.1 seconds left in overtime capped a 109-107 victory over the Washington Wizards.
“We felt it on the court,” Turkoglu said. “We tuned into it – especially on defense. Hopefully, it wasn’t for the one game. We keep it up for the whole year.”
Turkoglu scored Toronto’s final six points and finished with 20 overall. Chris Bosh led the Raptors with 31 points and 16 rebounds.
After Gilbert Arenas’ 3-pointer tied it at 107 with 30 seconds left, Turkoglu’s final jumper gave the Raptors the win. He took the inbound pass on the right baseline and put up a tough shot over Caron Butler to complete the scoring.
“Turkish Jordan. It was a tough shot,” said Butler, who had 16 points. “I tried to make him take a difficult shot, and it’s exactly what happened.”
On the final possession, Arenas missed a layup with about 2 seconds left, and the Wizards’ tip-in attempts also failed. Arenas finished with a season-high 34 points.
Arenas said he expected his defender to jump on the final drive and he compensated for contact that never came.
“I was just trying to outthink him, but he outthought me,” Arenas said.
The finish was quite a contrast from the Raptors’ previous fortunes. Toronto had lost nine of its last 11 and especially struggled on the defensive end of the floor. Against Washington the Raptors gave up more than 100 points for the 12th straight game, although they held the Wizards to 96 in regulation. The lapses prompted coach Jay Triano to call a team meeting Friday morning, although he decided against making any lineup changes.
The decision paid off early, as Toronto scored the first 10 points of the game. Washington didn’t take its first lead of the game until the fourth quarter.
“I’m more disappointed in this game than any game we’ve had,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said. “We just buried ourselves in such a hole.”
The Wizards did build a six-point lead with 5 1/2 minutes to go in the fourth quarter and appeared to be on the verge of pulling away, but the Raptors fought back.
“We didn’t hang our heads,” Triano said. “We have a tendency to hang our heads when we get down five or six. Guys seemed very positive all night – almost with a belief they’re going to win.”
It was the first overtime game of the season for both teams. Arenas tied it with a jumper over Jarrett Jack with 13.7 seconds left in regulation, and Turkoglu’s attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
Turkoglu made up for that miss in overtime. He hit a 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes to go to give the Raptors a four-point lead and sealed the game with his final shot.
“No matter what happened today, we have to be satisfied how we stuck together,” Bosh said. “The bench was into it. Everybody was into it. We have to do that for the rest of the season if we want to be successful.”
NOTES: Saunders said G DeShawn Stevenson was “under the weather” before the game. Stevenson did not play. … It was the first overtime game for the Wizards since Nov. 5, 2008. … Raptors F Reggie Evans, who has missed the entire season with a sprained left foot, had his hard cast removed Thursday. “Hopefully he can start some on-court stuff in the next couple of weeks,” Triano said. … Toronto G Jose Calderon went a career-high 124 minutes without a turnover before losing the ball in the third quarter. … The teams were playing for the second time in four days. Washington won 106-102 at Toronto on Tuesday night.