Raptors, Wizards continue pursuit of No. 3 spot in East
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards may have finally figured out a viable second unit. The Toronto Raptors suddenly find their rotation in disarray.
Bojan Bogdanovic, acquired before last week’s NBA trade deadline, scored 27 points off the bench and sank three 3-pointers in the Wizards 105-96 victory at Toronto on Wednesday night.
“Just great energy and big presence of Jason (Smith) and (Ian) Mahinmi on defense with a couple of blocks and a steal, we were able to run on the fast break and find a couple of easy buckets and easy shots,” said Bogdanovic of his performance while crediting Washington’s backup big men.
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The victory moved Washington (36-23) into third in the Eastern Conference. Toronto can jump back ahead by winning Friday’s rematch.
The game also marks the debut of guard Brandon Jennings, who was signe by Washington on Thursday after clearing waivers following his release by the New York Knicks. The presence of the two new veterans will bolster one of the league’s weaker benches.
“(Our front office) did a good job of putting us in the position to get a guy like Bojan, it solidifies our scoring off our bench, and then obviously we picked up Brandon Jennings, he’s also going to help us,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.
Jennings will help run the offense when John Wall rests, though the reseves had no issue Wednesday. With its second unit on the court, Washington scored 22 straight points during a memorable second quarter.
Granted, Toronto (36-25) would rather forget it ever happened.
“Just totally forget that second quarter,” Raptors forward Patrick Patterson said. “It was a complete letdown by the second unit. The best thing we can do is flush the second quarter down the toilet and completely forget it. Absolutely anything that we could have done wrong we did, no talking, communication, not rebounding, rushing shots on the offensive end, not contesting, everything that you didn’t want to do on the defensive side we did.”
Toronto is learning on the fly after the revelation that All-Star guard Kyle Lowry would likely miss the rest of the regular season following wrist surgery. Cory Joseph and the inexperienced Delon Wright are taking on larger roles.
“We just need to figure out how to play together,” Raptors guard Norman Powell said. “Delon’s (Wright) fifth game back, he’s getting into the flow of the rotation. You have PJ (Tucker) on the team too, so everyone is trying to feel each other out in that second unit.”
Toronto, which won four straight prior to Wednesday, opens a five-game road trip.