Game No. 53: Raptors 99, Wizards 92

Nene, Trevor Booker, Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche were all out of the lineup for the Wizards tonight, so they were easy pickings for most NBA teams. The Raptors are not most NBA teams, so they had to fend off a late charge where the Wizards got within three points with a little over a minute to go in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, the Wizards won the battle of who could care less and basically guaranteed they’ll have more lottery ping-pong balls than the Raptors.

1. The Raptors have been outrebounded by their opponents every season since the 2001-02 season. That means that, before this season, the Raptors have been given up more rebounds than they have grabbed for nine straight seasons. The Raptors outrebounded the Wizards 43-31 tonight and now have an advantage of 35 rebounds over their opponents over the course of the season. Aaron Gray is only fourth on the team in total rebounds, but he grabbed eight boards in just 16 minutes tonight and he’s the runaway team leader with 12.5 rebounds per 36 minutes. If he’s willing to re-sign for a few years at around the same $2.5 million he’s making this season, I have no problem with “The White Panther” as the Raptors’ backup center for the near future.

2. Jose Calderon held his own against John Wall once again tonight. In seven head-to-head matchups, Jose Calderon has averaged 11.9 points, 9.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 2.1 turnovers and shot 53.8 percent form the field. Meanwhile, John Wall has averaged 16.4 points, 7.9 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 3 turnovers and shot 42.5 percent from the field. I’m not sure what that says about Calderon or Wall, I’m just presenting the info.

3. Solid all-around game by Andrea Bargnani, although I would have expected nothing less against such a low-rent opposing frontcourt. You’ll see his full line at the bottom of this post, but the free throw attempts, assists and steals were all nice to see from him.

4. It’s too soon to tell if Jan Vesely is going to be a good basketball player, but I’m increasingly questioning the wisdom of drafting players that raw with a pick as high as sixth overall. I know Bismack Biyombo was taken right after him and he’s already shown indications of being a future stud with his rebounding and shot-blocking, but Biyombo’s defensive abilities were clear coming into his rookie season so his performance isn’t completely surprising. With Vesely, we knew he was long, he could run the floor, he was athletic and he could dunk. None of those attributes are necessarily indicative that a prospect is going to turn into a legitimate NBA player. By the time we know one way or another, Vesely will have probably played three seasons and earned $10 million.

5. You know what? The camo uniforms have grown on me. They’re distinctive, they’re for a good cause, and it seems like the Raptors enjoy wearing them. Mind you, the uniforms could be floral print and I’m certain Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson wouldn’t complain. Also, can we just have Linas Kleiza wear the camo uniform very game from now on? He really does look badass in that getup.

6. I don’t have anything else worthwhile to say about this contest, so here’s your play of the game. It’s Ben Uzoh with a steal leading to a breakaway dunk.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani — 30 Min, 18 Pts, 6-15 FG, 6-6 FT, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 3 Stl

Wizards Player of the Game: Chris Singleton — 34 Min, 15 Pts, 5-8 FG, 4-4 3Pt, 1-2 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl