Wizards 99, Raptors 96

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TORONTO (AP)—The Washington Wizards escaped with a victory in their season opener.

Antawn Jamison had 29 points and the Wizards held off the Toronto Raptors 99-96 on Wednesday night.

Gilbert Arenas added 21 points for the Wizards, who were repeatedly beat on the offensive glass down the stretch. The Raptors couldn’t take advantage though as they kept missing open shots.

“We played poorly,” Jamison said. “We didn’t rebound. They pretty much got 25 points off offensive rebounds, but nothing was gift wrapped. We just stay poised. We didn’t let our play affect us.”

Jalen Rose had 20 points for the Raptors, but just two in the fourth quarter as he missed a number of shots down the stretch.

Down by three with 12.7 seconds left, Toronto rookie Charlie Villanueva threw up an airball on a 3-point attempt and Rose’s 3-pointer clanked off the front of the rim.

Toronto shot 24 percent in the fourth quarter.

“We had a chance to win the game. We missed shots down the stretch,” Rose said. “This team needs me to step up in crucial situations. I did not do that. I had a couple of turnovers down the stretch, missed a couple of shots and I can’t do that. I take this loss upon myself.”

The trio of Arenas, Jamison and Larry Hughes helped Washington reach the playoffs for the first time since 1997 last season, but they lost Hughes to free agency this past summer.

Coach Eddie Jordan said his team probably won’t click right away as he integrates newcomers Antonio Daniels, Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins into the Princeton offense.

“We’re still trying to find our way with each other,” Arenas said.

Jamison also grabbed nine rebounds and finished 12-for-21 from the field. He struggled in the preseason but had 13 points in the first quarter.

“I’ve been pretty much underestimated my whole career,” Jamison said. “Last year I got some recognition, but I don’t care about that. I care about the success of this team.”

After Toronto’s Mike James made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one with 1:16 left, Brendan Haywood took a charge as Rose drove to the basket.

Rose went 1-for-5 from the field in the fourth quarter.

Jamison followed the charge with a short jumper, and Toronto missed their two 3-point attempts.

Jamison said he was impressed with Villanueva and fellow Toronto rookies Joey Graham and Jose Calderon.

“On paper the Raptors don’t look like much, but these guys are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future,” Jamison said. “Charlie has size, he can put it on the floor and he has a nice jumper.”


Jordan said a season opening win is important but not that important. “It’s a fragile, sensitive league, but it’s not going to make or break the season,” Jordan said. … Graham’s twin brother Stephen, who was recently cut by San Antonio, attended the game. … Free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, Toronto ace Roy Halladay and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg sat in the second row behind one of the baskets. The Blue Jays are trying to recruit Burnett. Actress Lara Flynn Boyle sat courtside.

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9 Rebs, 3 Assists
C. Bosh C. Bosh
7-19,  17 Pts
14 Rebs, 1 Assists

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