- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 8, 2003

The bus that delivered the Toronto Raptors to MCI Center last night did not bring dinosaurs as much as fatted calves to be slaughtered. And the appreciative Washington Wizards obliged.

The Wizards held the Raptors to the fewest points scored by an opponent in franchise history while routing Toronto 86-60. The previous low for a Washington opponent was 65 by Miami on Nov.16, 2002.

“We had a game plan, but I didn’t think it was going to be that effective,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of the Raptors, who beat Dallas 77-71 one night earlier. “That truly wasn’t the real Toronto Raptors out there.”

The Wizards (3-2) put the game away in the second quarter when they outscored Toronto 29-4. Since the advent of the 24-second clock, only the Los Angles Clippers were more inept in the second quarter, scoring three points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec.14, 1999.

The decisive quarter started with the Wizards scoring 16 unanswered points to put them up 38-19, effectively killing Toronto’s desire to compete.

And one week after scoring 27 points in the first half against these same Wizards — in a game Toronto still managed to win — the Raptors scored just 23 points in the first half, their worst in franchise history.

The rousing victory — the Wizards received a standing ovation at halftime and at the end of the game from a sellout crowd of 20,173 — came after a 10-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. The performances prompted Jordan to compliment his team.

“A will to win, a will to play hard,” Jordan said of Washington’s recent play. “A will to not be underdogs and accepting it. We have young guys who want to make a name for the Wizards and not necessarily themselves.

“We still turn the ball over. We still take bad shots,” Jordan continued. “But there is a will to win there. That’s good. In a young team, that’s great.”

Five Wizards scored in double figures, led by Larry Hughes’ 16 points. Christian Laettner, making his second start of the season, had 11 rebounds and nine points. Jarvis Hayes and Juan Dixon added 13 points each, and point guard Gilbert Arenas finished with 11 points and five assists.

Arenas noted the victory came without last season’s leading scorer, Jerry Stackhouse, and also said he does not buy the theory the Wizards are surprising people.

“When Stackhouse went down [following arthroscopic knee surgery], we wondered how we were going to get some wins, but it’s better to get them now,” he said. “Teams are like, ‘Oh, they’re young,’ so it’s better to sneak in wins now. [But] I don’t think we’re sneaking them in now. I just think we’re flat-out beating teams.”

Although the Raptors looked and played as if they wanted to be somewhere else, Jordan was correct to credit his team’s play. The Wizards’ defense forced the Raptors into 22 turnovers that resulted in 22 points. Washington also held the Raptors to 36.8 percent from the floor (25-for-68). The lead grew as large as 35 points in the fourth quarter, and Toronto (3-2) never got closer than 22 points in the final 25:54.

The Wizards also seemed to learn a rebounding lesson from their first meeting with Toronto, when the Raptors held a 47-39 edge. Last night Washington controlled the boards 48-38.

Vince Carter led the Raptors with 18, but Morris Peterson (11) was the only other Toronto player to reach double figures.


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