TORONTO (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic is already fitting in better than he could possibly have imagined with his new teammates.
The Bosnian guard who was acquired from Brooklyn on Feb. 22 had 27 points off the bench in leading the Washington Wizards to a 105-96 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, snapping an eight-game losing streak to their Eastern Conference rival in the process.
The victory also moved the third-placed Wizards one game clear of the fourth-placed Raptors in the standings, ahead of their third and final matchup of the season on Friday in Washington. Toronto won the first game on Nov. 2.
”When you play with such great guys, first of all, and then great players, it is pretty easy and quick for me to adjust to all the changes that I have been facing in the past three or four days,” Bogdanovic said after his second-highest point total of the season.
In his fourth game with the Wizards, Bogdanovic keyed Washington’s decisive run in the second quarter when it erased a two-point deficit at the end of the first with a 26-1 run over the first 5:25 of the period to lead by 23 points. Bogdanovic had 16 points during that run on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range.
His contributions didn’t go unnoticed, although coach Scott Brooks was equally effusive in his praise for general manager Ernie Grunfeld and the front office for the trade.
”Ernie and his staff did a good job of putting us in the position to get a guy like Bojan,” he said. ”It solidifies our bench. . I thought the guys did a good job of just taking care of business.”
Coming off Tuesday’s 112-108 win over the Golden State Warriors, who hold the NBA’s best record, the Wizards are riding high, with an Eastern Conference-leading 20-7 record since New Year’s Day.
”It is all mental toughness at the end of the day,” he said. ”Everybody is playing back-to-backs, everybody is tired. At this point of the year, it is just all about being mentally tough.”
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors in the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry, out following wrist surgery. DeRozan had 24 points, while Serge Ibaka added 20. But given the way the second quarter turned out, the emphasis after the game was very much on the defensive side of the ball.
”We could have played better defense and not got down 20-something points and that’s all effort on the defensive end,” DeRozan said. ”We’re going to miss shots and that, but we’ve got to (be able) to rely on our defense.”
Patrick Patterson, who was part of the second unit that was on the court for much of the 26-1 Washington run, said his teammates need to forget it and focus on Friday’s rematch.
”The best thing we can do is flush the second quarter down the toilet and completely forget it,” he said. ”Absolutely anything that we could have done wrong we did.”
Wizards: G Brandon Jennings was signed on Wednesday after being released by New York on Monday, but he wasn’t with the team in Toronto. Rookie F Daniel House was waived to free a roster spot. G Trey Burke also missed the game for personal reasons. … Washington has not won a season series against Toronto since the 2007-08 season. This season, the series is tied 1-1. … Wizards G John Wall and Raptors F Patrick Patterson both played at Kentucky together before becoming first-round picks in the 2010 draft. … Wednesday’s game was the first of 12 on the road in March for the Wizards. They play just six home games during the month. … Washington improved to 16-1 when holding its opponent under 100 points.
Raptors: Toronto’s eight-game winning streak over Washington was the longest for either team in the rivalry, bettering the Wizards’ run of six from Nov. 7, 2003-Jan. 21, 2005.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
Midway through the third quarter, Wall rifled a one-handed pass past Toronto’s Cory Joseph and hit teammate Martin Gortat flush in the face, knocking him to the floor. The big center took it in stride though, quickly getting up and playing on. ”He tried to break my little nose,” Gortat said jokingly.
Wizards: Host Toronto on Friday.
Raptors: Visit Washington on Friday.