Raptors-Wizards Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 30, 2013
While the Washington Wizards have had their share of struggles on the road, they've been very good in the nation's capital lately. The Wizards will try to extend their longest home winning streak in more than six years Sunday night when they take on the Toronto Raptors. After losing consecutive road games, including 97-92 to woeful Orlando on Friday, Washington (26-46) hopes to get back on track with a two-game stay at home. Chicago comes to town Tuesday. The Wizards have won six straight on their home floor, taking the last five by an average of 14.8 points. They improved to 19-17 at home with a 107-94 victory over Memphis on Monday, but they're tied for the league's second-worst road record at 7-29. Defense has been one of the keys during the franchise's longest home win streak since a 10-game run in 2006-07. The Wizards have limited opponents to 92.2 points per game and 29.6 percent from 3-point range over the past six home games. "We've been playing hard," point guard John Wall said. "When we're at home, we come out and play defense right from the (tip)." Wall, who had 35 points Friday, has been particularly good at home lately. He's averaged 31.0 points, including a career-high 47 on Monday, and 9.3 assists while shooting 68.8 percent in the last three games in Washington. Martell Webster also has been hot there, averaging 23.0 points and hitting 19 of 36 from 3-point range over his past four home games. The Wizards have shot 50.0 percent or better in each of their last five games at the Verizon Center, averaging 108.0 points and hitting 52.3 percent from beyond the arc. Now they'll try to maintain that efficiency against Toronto, which allowed an average of 106.2 points during a five-game losing streak before tightening things up Friday in a 99-82 victory at Detroit. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan each finished with a team-high 21 points, while Amir Johnson added 20 and eight rebounds. Gay scored 19 in the third quarter, when the Raptors (27-45) outscored the Pistons 36-15 en route to their second win in nine road games this month. "We've got a lot of young players and we're playing for next year," Gay said. "These young guys need to know what it feels like to win." Twenty-year-old center Jonas Valanciunas contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds Friday, and he's averaged 15.0 points on 72.5 percent shooting in his last six games. This season series has seen each team win once on the other's home floor. Gay had 24 points in a 96-88 victory at Washington on Feb. 19, but he was held to seven and shot 1 for 11 six days later in a 90-84 defeat. DeRozan averaged 24.5 points in the two meetings. Bradley Beal has led Washington with a combined 45 points in those matchups but is expected to be out at least another week because of a sprained ankle. Nene will be a game-time decision after missing the past three games with a knee injury. Trevor Booker has averaged 8.0 points and 6.3 rebounds while starting for Nene.
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