The Raptors have solidified themselves as the third best team in the East in recent weeks, winning nine of their last 11 including the last five straight.
But that doesn’t make the Wizards feel any better about the way they were drubbed at home by Toronto on Friday in a game that Washington trailed by as many as 26 points.
Wizards head coach Randy Wittman has seen his team struggle plenty in his two-plus seasons there, and isn’t afraid to rip his players publicly when appropriate. The performance against the Raptors earned the team another postgame tongue-lashing.
From Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
Wizards Coach Randy Wittman scanned the box score as he sat at the podium after the Wizards’ 101-88 loss on Friday to the Toronto Raptors. Wittman sighed, then explained that he was “shocked” and “disappointed” with his team’s listless performance, adding that some “selfish play” had crept in and contributed to an embarrassing defeat that was much more lopsided than the final score would suggest.
“We’ve proven over the last couple of years you can’t play that way,” Wittman said, shaking his head. “And we’re getting concerned with, ‘Why am I coming out? How many minutes am I getting? How many shots am I getting?’ rather than, ‘What is the team doing?’ and we didn’t do that tonight and that is disappointing because we’re not good enough to do it that way…We have to come back together. It is not about ‘me’ it’s about ‘us’ and it has to be focused on us and it was focused on individuals rather than the team.”
The Wizards had won five of six before dropping consecutive games to the Mavericks and Raptors, so perhaps Wittman was simply making sure to stop the recent slide before it went any further.
But there is something to his comments, at least in terms of the team’s lack of sharing the ball: Washington has one more turnover (37) than it has assists (36) over these last two losses, and managed just one assist in a third quarter that the Raptors won by 20 points.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.