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Raptors purge Game 1 jitters

China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-16 07:40
Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) passes the ball around Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) in game one of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre, April 14, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

TORONTO - For the first time in almost 17 years, the Toronto Raptors are off to a winning start in a playoff series.

Not that they're overly excited about it.

Serge Ibaka had 23 points and 12 rebounds and Delon Wright scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors snapped a 10-game losing streak in playoff openers by beating the Washington Wizards 114-106 on Saturday.

"It's out of the way now," DeMar DeRozan said of the streak. "Worry about Game 2."

DeRozan scored 17 points, CJ Miles and OG Anunoby each had 12 and Kyle Lowry had 11 points and nine assists for the Raptors, whose only previous victory in the opening game of a playoff series came in the second round at Philadelphia on May 6, 2001.

Toronto entered having lost an NBA-worst 10 consecutive series openers since, including six at home.

"I think the fans are more relieved than we are," Wright said.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said his team, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, won't lose focus.

"We're not satisfied," Casey said. "We're in this for the long run."

Toronto put its streak in the past by hitting 16 of 30 3-point attempts, a team record for a postseason game.

"We let a few of their guys that just can flat-out shoot put up a lot of 3s," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.

Miles made four from long range, while Ibaka and Wright each hit three.

"I always thought Serge was going to be the X-factor with his shooting when they double-team Kyle and DeMar," Casey said. "His 3-point shooting is huge."

Brooks called Ibaka "one of the best, if not the best, big man shooter in the league."

The Raptors host Game 2 on Tuesday.

John Wall had 23 points and 15 assists for the Wizards, while Markieff Morris had 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Bradley Beal scored 19 points for Washington, while Mike Scott had 14 and Marcin Gortat 12.

The Wizards swept Toronto in the first round in 2015 but find themselves in a quick hole this time around.

"We've been here before," Beal said. "We didn't come here with the mindset that we were going to sweep them. We had opportunities, several opportunities, to win tonight and close it out but we didn't. Brush it off and move forward."

Washington led 91-88 when Scott was called for a flagrant foul after using his elbow to knock Lowry down early in the fourth.

Lowry made both free throws and, on the ensuing possession, Wright gave Toronto the lead with a layup. After a missed shot by Morris, Miles hit a 3 to cap a 7-0 run that gave the Raptors a 95-91 lead with 9:26 left.

"That sequence was big for us just to get the lead back and kind of start to get a little bit of momentum, a little bit more push," Lowry said.

Kelly Oubre hit a 3 and Gortat made a dunk to put Washington back in front, but Wright and Miles each hit 3-pointers as Toronto used an 8-0 run to take a 103-96 lead with 6:27 left, and never trailed again.

Anunoby made his first two 3-pointers and led Toronto with eight points in the first as the Raptors led 28-23 after one.

"He was great," Casey said of Anunoby. "He was cool as a cucumber. When he made his first 3, I thought that relaxed him a little bit."

Wall scored nine points in the first, but Gortat and replacement Ian Mahinmi each had two fouls before the first quarter was half over. Gortat picked up his first when he fouled Jonas Valanciunas on the opening tip.

"It was definitely a challenge," Brooks said of the early foul trouble.

"You don't think your big will get a foul on the jump ball. I don't think I've ever seen that to start the game, especially in the playoffs."

The Wizards led 59-55 at halftime. Toronto reclaimed the lead with an 11-2 spurt to start the third.

"They jumped on us," Brooks said.

"For some reason we didn't lock in those first few minutes."

DeRozan scored 12 points in the quarter as the Raptors took a slim 86-85 lead into the fourth.

Agence France-presse

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