Inquirer Daily News


NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, January 3rd (All times Eastern)

Toronto Raptors (15-15) at Washington Wizards (14-15), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors have to feel pretty confident with themselves after topping the best team in the Eastern Conference and will begin a three-game road trip Friday against the Washington Wizards.

The Raptors posted a 95-82 win over the Indiana Pacers Wednesday at Air Canada Centre, as DeMar DeRozan poured in a game-high 26 points and pulled down nine rebounds. DeRozan, who averaged 19.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in December, kicked off the new year with another strong performance.

DeRozan has scored 20 or more points three times in the last four games.

Terrence Ross scored 18 points in the win over Indiana, while Kyle Lowry added 13 points and 14 assists and Jonas Valanciunas netted 14 points as well for the Raptors, who scored 32 points off 23 turnovers and are on a season-high four-game winning streak. Only three Pacers scored in double figures (Roy Hibbert 16, Paul George 12, Danny Granger 11).

The Raptors are 8-2 in the previous 10 games and last won five in a row to close out the 2012-13 campaign. They also lead the Atlantic Division with a 15-15 mark.

"It's not about me. I'll be coaching long after these players are here so it's about them right now," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "It's important in this league to have swagger, but it's nothing if you can't keep this consistency."

The Raptors will visit Miami and Indiana on this sojourn and have a 9-7 record as the guest this season. They are 6-1 in the last seven road tilts.

Washington hopes to get back into the win column Friday and is coming off Wednesday's 87-78 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the first of three straight games at the Verizon Center.

John Wall scored 22 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists, while Trevor Booker compiled 10 points and pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds for the Wizards, who entered the night with five wins in the past six games.

"Sometimes you're just going to have one of those games and that was tonight," said Wall. "We just weren't making the shots and they did."

Wall leads the Wizards in scoring (20.2 points) and has registered 20-plus points in eight straight games, posting an average of 22.8 ppg in that time.

The Wizards are 7-6 in D.C. this season and will close out the homestand versus Golden State on Sunday.

Washington and Toronto will play the second of four meetings Friday and are scheduled to tangle again Feb. 18 and 27. The Raptors took the first matchup, 96-88, on Nov. 22 at Air Canada Centre and have won four of the last six games in this series.

Toronto has lost five of six and 13 of its last 18 games at Washington.

01/03 10:30:47 ET