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Raptors rally, top Wizards for first-ever Game 1 win

Saturday got off to an ominous start for the Toronto Raptors.

A franchise plagued with tropes of playoff failure, the top-seeded Raptors were supposed to be renewed for the 2018 postseason. No more shrinking stars in April and May. Fewer inefficient mid-range shots and more three-pointers. And, by all means, no more Game 1 losses after losing 10 straight in playoff series openers.

But the game was delayed thanks to a leaky roof at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. The realization set in that a Washington Wizards team that dropped to a No. 8 seed when All-Star point guard John Wall missed 41 games wasn’t really an 8-seed with Wall back.

And Toronto’ star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan fell right in line with their script of underachieving in the playoffs, combing for seven points on 2-for-8 shooting with zero three pointers a first half that the Wizards led 59-55.

Cue panic from the Raptors faithful. And cue urgency from the Raptors, who came out firing from halftime, getting quick three-pointers from Lowry, DeRozan and Serge Ibaka in the first three minutes of the second half as if to say not this time.

The Wizards kept things close through three quarters behind a strong effort from Wall but a 10-0 Raptors run in the fourth quarter secured a 114-106 Game 1 win and fended off panic in Toronto that nothing had actually changed with this team.

We knew what he had to do,” Lowry told ESPN. “We knew we had to play this like a Game 7. We got the job done, and it was a good win by us.”

It’s just one game, and Washington looks ready to give Toronto a run in this first-round matchup. But the Raptors made a statement in Saturday’s second half, showing fight that has failed them in their last 10 series openers.

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