DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay scored 24 points apiece, and the Toronto Raptors won a matchup between slow-starting, coming-on-lately teams Tuesday night with a 96-88 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Playing with an improvised scoreboard, horn, game clock and 24-second clock because of a malfunction in the scoring system, the Raptors took the lead for good in the second quarter and won their fifth straight game, putting them one victory shy of last season's total.
The Raptors have also won three in a row on the road for the first time since 2007 and are 6-2 since Gay arrived last month from the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team trade.
Rookie Bradley Beal, back in the starting lineup for the first time since taking time off to heal a sprained right wrist, scored 25 points for the Wizards, who had won eight of nine at home. John Wall had an off night, shooting 1 for 12 from the field for nine points and committing seven of Washington's 17 turnovers.
The teams began the post-All-Star break portion of the season with similar tales of woes and promise. The Raptors started 4-19 and are 18-13 since, aided by the addition of Gay. The Wizards were once 4-28 and have since gone 11-9, helped out by the return of Wall from a knee injury. There's still quite a hill to climb before either team could be considered a contender for the playoffs.
Tuesday's game had an unusual vibe because of the malfunctioning scoreboard. Officials rigged up a replacement that looked like something borrowed from a middle school gymnasium and placed it in front of the scorer's table, and 24-second clocks were placed on the floor at the corners. An air horn purchased from a sporting goods store as an emergency backup became the official horn.
It all had an effect on the game. The Raptors took some rushed shots as if the shot clock was close to zero when it actually wasn't. Toronto's players yelled the final seconds of both the first and second quarters from the bench — the crowd was so quiet, it was easy to hear — and DeRozan rose to the occasion both times, making buzzer-beaters with 0.6 and 1.2 seconds left.
In the second half, the public address announcer started blurting out "10" and "five" during possessions to let the players know the shot clock was counting down. He later counted down "four, three, two ..." during some possessions.
Gay started getting his stride in the second quarter, when he scored 12 points to help the Raptors to a 55-46 halftime lead. He got a technical for jawing at length with an official over a traveling call early in the third quarter, and his baseline drive and dunk turned into a three-point play that pushed the lead to 11 a few minutes later.
The Wizards stayed close, pulling within four twice early in the fourth quarter and within five on Martell Webster's 3-pointer with 5:16 to play. Gay responded with a 3-pointer with 2:24 remaining to get the lead back to 11.
NOTES: Washington's Jordan Crawford, who didn't play for the fourth straight game, took off his jersey and flung it into the stands as he walked off the court after the final whistle. ... The Raptors' win ended a nine-game winning streak for the home team in the series. ... Toronto's Terrence Ross won the NBA's slam dunk contest Saturday, but it's not an accomplishment that translated into playing time. He played 3 minutes and didn't score.
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