- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009

A night after producing a franchise-worst six-point second quarter, the Washington Wizards again spent the second half making up for their early mistakes.

And again they were left wondering why after a 99-93 loss Wednesday to the Toronto Raptors at Verizon Center.

“Why were we down double digits after the first quarter?” Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said. “The night before, why couldn’t you play in the second quarter? I mean, we keep asking these questions. And that really becomes the crux of the issue. There are four quarters to the game, they’re 12 minutes long and they’re the same for everybody. So somehow we’ve got to find our way to fully play throughout the games so we have a chance to win.”

With the loss, the Wizards (7-27) fell to 0-7 this season when playing the second game of a back-to-back. Washington lost to the Orlando Magic 89-80 on Tuesday when it had the poor second quarter.

Toronto also had to deal with some disadvantages. The Raptors played without starting point guard Jose Calderon, starting center Jermaine O’Neal and starting small forward in Jamario Moon, all out with injuries.

But the absences appeared to have little effect on the Raptors, who jumped out to a 19-6 lead in the first quarter and led by double digits the majority of game.

The Raptors made 70.6 percent of their shots in the first and lured the Wizards into a jump-shooting contest. Washington missed eight of its first 11 shots to fall behind.

“It’s our own fault,” Antawn Jamison said. “We know what we have to do to make it easier for us as a team, and right now we’re not doing that. Back-to-back nights to be down by 20 points both nights and then try to crawl your way out, you’ve got to be a pretty special team to be able to do that.”

Instead, the Wizards allowed the Raptors to shoot 54.4 percent from the field. They also let Toronto, which ranks 28th in the league in rebounding, claim a 39-28 advantage on the boards.

And despite forcing the Raptors into 20 turnovers, the Wizards couldn’t capitalize and avoid errors of their own.

What made the Raptors’ performance more impressive was that Toronto star forward Chris Bosh wasn’t a factor until late in the game.

Andrea Bargnani, starting in place of O’Neal, led Toronto with seven first-quarter points on 3-for-4 shooting. The former No. 1 pick finished with 25 points to lead five double-digit scorers.

Jamison led Washington with a season-high 32 points and seven rebounds. Caron Butler added 15 points - only two of them coming in the fourth quarter - to go with six rebounds and six assists. Andray Blatche scored 12 points but managed only one rebound. Point guard Mike James contributed 10 points and four assists.

The feeble effort spoiled a memorable night for Jamison, who with his sixth rebound became one of eight active players with 14,000 points and 6,000 rebounds. He joins Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Juwan Howard, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki.

“I don’t ever celebrate [milestones] until after the season,” Jamison said. “They’re one of those things that when it’s all said and done, you look back and realize what you accomplish. Of course, you’d like to have it in a win, but let’s try to go for 8,000 [rebounds] and keep going.”

After trailing by double digits nearly the entire game, the Wizards cut the lead to seven points at one point in the third but couldn’t formulate any sort of a rhythm until it was too late.

The Wizards opened the fourth with a 15-7 run that cut the lead to 80-75 in the first five minutes of the quarter. But Bosh, who finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists, scored nine straight points during a 10-4 run to put Toronto back up by 10.

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