By RACHEL BRADY
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors have jumped out to a 2-0 lead in a playoff series for the first time in franchise history, rollicking to the club's highest-scoring postseason game, 130-119 over the Washington Wizards.
After Toronto's all-star backcourt was double-teamed and limited in Game 1, DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 37 points on Tuesday, while Kyle Lowry had 13 points and 12 assists. Jonas Valanciunas contributed 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
The Raptors held Bradley Beal to nine points, but had to overcame a 29-point, nine-assist performance from his fellow all-star teammate John Wall, while Michael Scott had 20 points.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey had been preaching for three days that he didn't want his team basking in all the compliments coming their way since winning their opening playoff game for the first time. "We can't fall for it," said Casey, who marked his 61st birthday on Tuesday.
"Look what [sixth-seeded] Miami did to [third-seeded Philly [Monday night], just went and beat them out. We can't let [the Wizards] come into our building and let them do that to us. We've got to come out with a sense of urgency like they will."
Sure enough, the Raptors jumped out to a hefty lead right away.
DeRozan exploded for 13 fast points. OG Anunoby was sticking to Beal like glue, and then producing on the other end too. Valanciunas was all over the floor - finger rolls, blocked shots and yes, his first playoff three-pointer.
Wall picked up two early fouls - including a big charge into Lowry - and went to the bench to boos from the ACC crowd.
By the end of the first quarter, the rout was on between the topseeded Raptors and No. 8-seeded Wizards. The Raps rolled to a 4427 lead after their highest-scoring quarter in franchise playoff history.
The Wizards had vowed to better defend the Raptors beyond the arc on Tuesday after allowing the home team to drain a franchise-high 16 of them in Game 1.
Yet just 12 minutes into the game, the Raps had already hit seven of them. Instead of looking like a team desperate to even the series, the Wiz looked in the first half like a squad already booking vacation plans.
There were a couple of bright lights for Washington. Ty Lawson made his first appearance of the series for Washington off the bench was providing some defensive energy and dishing out a boat load of assists. Scott came in and contributed some desperately needed scoring.
But Valanciunas had a doubledouble by halftime, DeRozan and C.J. Miles had already each hit a trio of three-pointers, Lowry had already dished out seven assists and the Raps had held Wall and Beal to a combined 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
So the Raptors' next milestone was notched by halftime - their highest-scoring half in club playoff history at 76 points. That crushed the Raptors' previous record of 63 they'd scored in the second half of Game 7 against the Miami Heat back in 2016.
The Raps took an 18-point lead into the locker room, and they'd already used 12 players in the game - including Fred VanVleet, easing back into action after missing Game 1 due to an injured shoulder.
The second half began with Washington's stars looking determined to end the embarrassment. Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jr. spearheaded an 8-2 run. Wall was showing the blow-by speed and creative scoring that have made him an all-star.
Meanwhile, Toronto missed all seven three-point attempts of the third quarter, and looked out of sorts. They were outscored 32-24, as the Wiz narrowed the Raps' lead to 10 going into the fourth.
The loud and festive atmosphere inside the Air Canada Centre began to get quiet and tense as the Wiz kept storming. Suddenly a game Toronto once led by 23 had become an unnervingly close five-point contest. Then Toronto turned it up again with six minutes left.
Toronto finished with 13 threepointers and used all 13 men on the roster. They surpassed the 118point record set last year in Game 5 against Milwaukee.
The series now shifts to Washington for Games 3 and 4, scheduled for Friday and Sunday.
Washington Wizards guard Ty Lawson hits Toronto Raptors forward C.J. Miles during their matchup in Toronto on Tuesday. Lawson made his first appearance of the series for Washington.
FRANK GUNN/THE CANADIAN PRESS