Gay overcomes flu, leads Raptors past Wizards

Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay was struggling with the flu all day on Friday. He missed the shoot-around in the morning, yet still felt worse by game time.
But Gay was there when the Raptors needed him, scoring 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors defeated the Washington Wizards 96-88.
The Raptors, who also had 17 points from guard DeMar DeRozan, had to overcome a season-best 37 points from Washington guard John Wall.
"He had the flu and a temperature and gutted it out," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said, "I tried to get him in and out, give him a quick rest. He struggled a little bit early but down the stretch he came through for us."
"I felt worse than I did in the morning," Gay said. "But there was no stopping me, I was going to play. I was out of breath but I had to push forward for my team."
Forward Amir Johnson added 14 points for the Raptors despite picking up five fouls. Guard Kyle Lowry had 12 points and nine assists, center Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points and 13 rebounds and guard Terrence Ross had 11 points for the Raptors (6-7), who lead the NBA Atlantic Division for the first time since 2007.
"We didn't do a great job as a team defensively," said Wall, who scored 30 points in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter. "We fought back but we still weren't doing the right thing defensively. I was able to knock them down today so it was great but it doesn't mean anything if we don't come away with the win and do the right things down the stretch."
Guard Bradley Beal had 17 points for the Wizards (4-8), who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Forward Nene had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Washington and guard/forward Martell Webster scored nine points.
"We've got to keep fighting, playing more consistent basketball," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
The Raptors, down by four after three quarters, scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to regain the lead with guard D.J. Augustin contributing a 3-pointer. Forward Steve Novak and Ross hit consecutive 3-pointers and Toronto led 83-73 with 6.33 to play in the fourth quarter.
Wall came back with six consecutive points to cut the lead to four. After the Raptors went up by six, Beal came back with a 3-point play on a layup and free throw to cut the lead to three. Gays' turnaround jumper put the Raptors ahead by five with 2:33 to play.
Wall hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two points but Gay came back to put the Raptors up by four. Gay hit four free throws down the stretch to give the Raptors an eight-point lead with 17.5 seconds to play.
Gay said that he just tried to slow things down in the fourth quarter.
"I feel like I was trying to fight through the fact that I was real sluggish and slow," Gay said. "In the fourth quarter I just let it come to me."
The Raptors entered the second half with a 13-point lead but Wall went to work in the third quarter, scoring 18 points to pull the Wizards into a 70-66 lead. Wall tied the game at 57 with a layup after Gay's turnover and then put Washington ahead on a driving layup after Toronto forward Tyler Hansbrough missed a shot.
Wall added the free throw and Washington led 60-57 with 4:39 to play in the third. The Raptors tied the game at 60 and at 62 before the third ended with the Wizards leading by four.
The Wizards trailed by five points after one quarter and dropped behind by 11 before center Marcin Gortat made a layup after Webster's missed dunk gave them their first points of the second quarter after 5:20 was played.
Johnson's layup put the Raptors into a 16-point lead with 1:13 to play in the half. The Wizards scored 11 points and shot 4-for-21 from the floor in the second
"Momentum swings and that's why you've got to knuckle down and play defense," Webster said. "And take care of the ball. They scored 16 points off our (15) turnovers. That's got to change plain and simple. That's the game right there. They beat us on the boards (46-39 in total rebounds) and that's one thing we want to control. We weren't ourselves out there tonight."
NOTES: Raptors F Quincy Acy (sprained right ankle) did not play Friday and is listed as day to day. ... Wizards F Al Harrington (sore right knee) missed his fifth game in a row Friday and F Trevor Ariza (right hamstring strain) missed his fourth game in a row. ... The Raptors and the Wizards, who meet four times this season, have split their past three season series. ... The Wizards travel to New York to play the Knicks on Saturday and the Raptors are off until Tuesday when they are home to the Brooklyn Nets as they continue their season-long four-game homestand.

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