After some coaxing from his coach, DeMar DeRozan challenged his teammates to come out of the all-star break strong.

DeRozan and Dwane Casey chatted on the plane ride over, with Casey making it clear what he expected out of the face of the franchise. The message was heeded from DeRozan and from the others. While John Wall put on a one-man show at the other end, Toronto continued to play as a complete team — a trend since a season-defining trade with Sacramento was made back in December — and the latest result was a 103-93 win in D.C.

“We talked last night as a team about the next 30 games, what to expect as a team and DeMar followed up this morning with a talk,” Casey said. “Now we’ve got to follow it up with action.”

Step 1 was a success. DeRozan was one of seven Raptors to score at least five points in the opening half, while Wall had 19 points through the opening 24 minutes, but got little help, aside from big men Marcin Gortat, Nene and Trevor Booker, who scored, but were wretched inside, allowing 60 Raptors points in the paint.

Wall managed only three more the rest of the way.

“One thing with us, we adjust well,” DeRozan said afterward about what changed when defending Wall.

“We understand we can’t continue to make the same mistakes if it’s one player or if it’s team defence.” Casey said the team made adjustments with how the big men were helping on Wall and it paid dividends.

“Amir came in and gave us a bit more quickness at the point of the screen which helped us a lot,” he said.

Johnson returned after a two-game injury absence and gave the team a lift.

Kyle Lowry, ensnared again in trade rumours and still sour from being robbed of an all-star berth, shook off a tough, 2-for-8 start (albeit one that saw him hand out seven assists against just a single turnover) to score 14 points in a third quarter that saw the visitors pull away. Lowry finished with 24 points and 10 assists, DeRozan, Johnson and Greivis Vasquez, 14, as the Raptors shot 57% from the field.

“He took the game over in the third quarter and willed us to a win,” Casey said of Lowry.