"It felt like I was in high school again," DeMar DeRozan said. "I think we got a shot clock violation — I couldn't even find the shot clock."
Playing with an improvised scoreboard, horn, game clock and 24-second clock because of a malfunction in the Verizon Center's scoring system, the Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 96-88 Tuesday night.
DeRozan and Rudy Gay scored 24 points apiece, and Kyle Lowry had 11 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four turnovers as Toronto moved within one victory of its total for all of last season.
"It was weird. Kyle got stripped, like, three times looking at the clock," Gay said with a laugh. "My old AAU coach used to tell me: 'If you put two rims up in the kitchen, we'll play you.' So it don't matter."
The Raptors took the lead for good in the second quarter and have a three-game road winning streak for the first time since 2007. They are also 6-2 since Gay arrived last month from the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team trade, and point guard Lowry is finding a simple formula for keeping both of his top scorers happy.
"Get out of the way, give them the ball and move. 'Hey, good shot, DeMar.' 'Good shot, Rudy.' Those guys are easy to play with," Lowry said.
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. Third-year point guard John Wall shot 1 for 12 from the field and committed seven turnovers in one of his most forgettable games as a pro.
"I'll burn it, burn it and look forward to the next one," Wall said. "It's the first game back after the break."
There was more Wizards angst from Jordan Crawford, who took off his jersey and flung it into the stands as he walked off the court after failing to get off the bench for the fourth straight game. Crawford was an integral part of the scoring attack early in the season but now resides firmly in the doghouse. He did not speak to reporters after the game, and coach Randy Wittman said he didn't see Crawford toss the jersey.
The teams returned from the All-Star break 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.
Tuesday's game had an unusual vibe because of the makeshift scoreboard. Officials rigged up something that looked as if it were 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 time left on the shot clock. He also counted down "four, three, two ..." on some possessions.
"You don't even hear that," said Washington's Martell Webster, who scored 16 points. "So it's like you kind of find yourself in a scramble, and everybody's running around like a chicken with their head cut off."
Gay found 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 travelling 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 five on 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.
Now Gay gets to face his old team. The Raptors are hosting the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
"We can hang out and stuff after the game and stuff like that, but we're all about business on the court," Gay said. "We're working on a streak right now. We're trying to win games. We don't have time for all the emotional stuff."
NOTES: 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 translates into playing time. He played 3 minutes and didn't score.
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