- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2007

TORONTO — To succeed during their stretch of games without Antawn Jamison — however long that stretch may be — the Washington Wizards will have to defend better than they did in last night’s 119-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

Washington (27-18) played its first game since Jamison sprained his left knee when he collided with teammate DeShawn Stevenson in the first period of a big win over Detroit one night earlier.

Jamison is scheduled to have an MRI on the knee today, and the team should have a better idea when he will return. One team official said Jamison would be out for at least two weeks, maybe more.

Though Jamison will be toughest to replace on offense, last night the Raptors (23-23) exposed the Wizards on the defensive end. And right before the game Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said his team needed to become tougher defensively.

“You know, it’s the wrong night to proclaim that,” Jordan said. “It wasn’t a proclamation, but it was something that we needed to do. We tried everything tonight.”

And nothing they tried worked.

For the game, the Raptors made 59.3 percent of their shots. And in the decisive third quarter, when they built their lead as large as 19 points, they shot 66.7 percent from the field and outscored the Wizards 43-34.

The game belonged to 22-year-old Toronto forward Chris Bosh.

The 6-foot-10 Bosh, who led all scorers with 34 points, ended the third quarter looking every bit the All-Star he is.

He closed the period with five points in the span of 2.6 seconds. Following a layup, Bosh stole a pass in front of the Wizards’ basket and then flung a shot 55 feet to beat the buzzer and give the Raptors a 97-80 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Bosh had missed his first four shots before going on to make 15 straight.

“It wasn’t about offense for us tonight. It was about defense,” said Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, who finished with a team-high 27 points. “He started off slow, and from there he went on a tear. When you are feeling it, shots like [the 55-footer] somehow go in. He was feeling it, and he was on a roll tonight.”

Filling in for Jamison, Calvin Booth got his first start of the season. In 18 minutes, the eighth-year veteran finished with four points and two rebounds.

Starting center Brendan Haywood said that without the team’s third leading scorer he simply ran out of room to operate.

“Without Antawn on the floor we don’t have the same spacing,” said Haywood, who finished with eight points. “We’ve got to find out what works and what doesn’t work. You saw it tonight. Teams are going to load up on Gilbert and throw everything but the kitchen sink at him. I know I would if I was a coach.”

Caron Butler, who like Arenas probably will have to carry even more of the scoring load until Jamison returns, finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Wizards also got strong play from reserves Antonio Daniels (14 points) and Jarvis Hayes (13).

But on this night the Wizards had no answer for Bosh, who also pulled down eight rebounds.

Teammate Jose Calderon had an excellent floor game, scoring 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting. Calderon also had 11 assists.

The Wizards had been getting better defensively in recent games, holding three consecutive opponents to less than 100 points. But the Raptors eclipsed the century mark with more than 10 minutes left in the game.

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