Toronto (7-13) at Washington (7-10)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 82° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Fri Dec 4, 2009
  • TV: TSN, CSMA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Gilbert Arenas(notes) and the Washington Wizards are showing signs of life offensively. Another game against the defensively challenged Toronto Raptors should only help.

Arenas and the Wizards look to beat the Raptors, who are coming off their worst defensive performance in more than a decade, for the second time in four days Friday at the Verizon Center.

With Arenas healthy for the first time in two years, Washington (7-10) had high hopes for this season. The proven scorer got off to a sluggish start, though, and the Wizards lost nine of their first 12.

Things got especially bad for Arenas last week, when the three-time All-Star was held under 10 points in consecutive games for the first time since March 29-30, 2002, during his rookie season.

Arenas has broken out of that slump with 22 points and nine assists in each of the last two games, wins over Toronto and Milwaukee.

In Wednesday’s 104-102 victory over the Bucks, Caron Butler(notes) and Antawn Jamison(notes) each scored 15 points, while Earl Boykins(notes) scored 11 of his 13 in the final 10 minutes, including two free throws with one second left.

The Wizards, who haven’t won three in a row since April 4-9, 2008, have won four of five after their disappointing start thanks in part to an offensive turnaround. They averaged 86.2 points and shot 39.1 percent from the field during the first five games of November—all losses—but have since topped 100 points in six of nine, including the last two while shooting 50.6 percent.

“You want to be consistent,” center Brendan Haywood(notes) said of the Wizards’ offense. “And we’re working on that and getting better everyday.”

The Raptors (7-13) are heading in the opposite direction of Washington, having lost five in a row and nine of 11.

A lack of defense has been the biggest reason for its struggles, as Toronto has given up at least 100 points in 11 straight games and is allowing 111.0 per game to rank 29th in the league.

“We didn’t magically appear last on the charts defensively,” Raptors forward Chris Bosh(notes) said.

A night after losing 106-102 to the visiting Wizards, Toronto was embarrassed Wednesday in a 146-115 loss to Atlanta, its sixth straight road defeat.

The Raptors allowed the Hawks to shoot 59.1 percent from the floor and yielded their most points since giving up a franchise-worst 152 in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on March 13, 1998.

“We’ve got to care about it,” Bosh said. “That’s what it comes down to. Have some pride. Without that pride teams just score at will, like they did (Wednesday).

“If we did care we wouldn’t give up 145 points.”

The Raptors also are hoping Bosh can return to form after finishing with a season-low two points in only 16 minutes against Atlanta. Bosh, who averages 24.1 points, had 22 points and 14 rebounds against the Wizards on Tuesday.

These teams won’t meet again until Feb. 20 at Air Canada Centre.

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Friday, Dec 4