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Wizards start hot, still need OT to top Toronto
With four minutes remaining in the first half, John Wall tossed an alley-oop to Javale McGee to give the Washington Wizards a 16-point lead over the Toronto Raptors.
As the 14,687 fans at Verizon Center rose to their feet in celebration, they had to double-check the replay to make sure they were at the right game.
After suffering one of the largest blowouts of the season to the Los Angeles Clippers two days earlier, perhaps the wrong team had taken the plane back to California.
The replay confirmed: No. This was John Wall, not Chris Paul. No. This was Javale McGee, not Blake Griffin.
The Wizards looked — and played — like a different team in the first half of Monday night's 111-108 win over lowly Toronto.
But a late run by the Raptors forced the Wizards into overtime where Washington narrowly avoided losing its fifth straight game.
"If this is another team and we're 20-5, we should be [disappointed]," coach Randy Wittman said. "That's the growing up process that we're going to have to be— that I'm going to have to be— patient with. I can't be disappointed. We got a win. This team needed a win. Both mentally, physically."
Washington built an early lead thanks to one of its best halves of the season, including a first quarter where it shot 65 percent from the field. The Wizards led by as many as 18 in the second half.
But with about 5½ minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Raptors went on 13-2 run over the next 3:45 seconds to tie the game at 98 with 1:41 to play.
"That's what you live for," said Wall, who scored a game-high 31 points. "You've got to keep fighting."
The Wizards pulled ahead by two in the last 30 seconds. With about 10 seconds remaining, Jerryd Bayless drove through lane and missed a lay up. But Amir Johnson followed with a dunk to tie the game at 105 and send it into overtime.
Jordan Crawford gave the Wizards the lead in overtime with a finger roll, John Wall blocked two shots and the Wizards hung on for the victory.
Asked if he was nervous headed into overtime Wall said, "I don't get nervous. Those are the best times. That's when it's time to shine."
Nick Young added 29 and Trevor Booker put up a season high 19 points.
Bayless led Toronto with 30 points.
Wittman emphasized that although the Wizards didn't close out the game as they would have hoped, he is satisfied with the direction the team is headed.
"A win is a win right now. And we are happy … All we can do is look forward," Wittman said. "Now this game will be behind us tonight and we've got to move forward to New York. And that's kind what we're doing this year, moving forward."
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By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
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