Raptors lose Game 1 104-101 to Magic

Raptors lose Game 1 104-101 to Magic
TORONTO – D.J. Augustin scored 25 points including a three-pointer with three seconds left to lead the Orlando Magic to a 104-101 victory Saturday over the Toronto Raptors to open the playoffs.

Kawhi Leonard had 25 points, while Pascal Siakam had 24 for Toronto.

Fred VanVleet had 14 points, while Marc Gasol and Danny Green scored 13 apiece for the for the Raptors, who went 58-24 for the No. 2 seed in the East in the regular season and are making their sixth consecutive playoff appearance.

Kyle Lowry, who took a hard knee to the groin from former Raptor Terrence Ross early in the game, had a horrible game, scoring zero points on 0-for-7 shooting.

Nikola Vucevic and Jonathan Isaac had 11 points, and Aaron Gordon added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, who were 42-40 in the regular season, and are making their first playoff appearance since 2012.

The Raptors are by far the more experienced team, boasting a combined 320 playoff games by the starters — almost 10 times that of Orlando’s starters. But the Magic, who’ve been one of the league’s hottest teams since the all-star break, clearly didn’t get the memo.

A 15-0 Orlando run in the second quarter put the visitors up by 16 points, leaving the crowd in stunned silence and conjuring horrible memories of the Game 1 losses that plagued Toronto for years. When the Raptors beat Washington in Game 1 last season, it snapped a streak — finally — of 10 consecutive Game 1 losses.

The Raptors roared back with a 20-2 run that straddled the second and third quarters. They took a narrow 76-65 lead into the fourth.

The Raptors led by as many as six points midway through the fourth, but the Magic clawed back with a 10-2 run that put them back on top with less than two minutes to play. Leonard’s fadeaway jumper from in front of Orlando’s bench had the Raptors up by two with 1:02 to play, but Augustin answered with a jump shot to tie the game. Gasol had a three-point shot bounce off the rim, then Augustin, with no-one guarding him, hit the dagger three with 3.4 seconds to play.

Leonard air-balled a three-point attempt and it was game over.

Michael Carter-Williams took an accidental wack to the face by Lowry midway through the third that had blood gushing from his face, and required a quick mop of the court. Television commentators said it appeared that Carter-Williams might have a broken nose.

Game 2 is on Tuesday in Toronto, then the series shifts to Orlando for Games 3 and 4 next Friday and Sunday.

The teams split their season series 2-2, Orlando handing Toronto two of its ugliest losses of the season. The Magic closed the regular season strong, matching Toronto’s conference-best 22-9 record over the final 31 games.

Playoff expectations are sky-high. After the Raptors had been sent packing from the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third consecutive season, Raptors president Masai Ujiri acquired Leonard and Green, and then added Gasol at the trade deadline.

The Scotiabank Arena crowd of 19,937 was a sea of red, and erupted in a spontaneous ovation moments before tip-off when former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas was spotted taking a seat courtside. Valanciunas, who was traded to Memphis for Gasol in February, said in a TV interview during a timeout that he “wanted to come and support my guys.”

Blue Jays star Marcus Stroman was also at the game.

The Raptors were missing key reserve OG Anunoby, who had an emergency appendectomy on Thursday. There’s no timeline for his return.

Leonard got off to a strong start with 11 points in the first quarter. The Raptors took an eight-point lead late in the frame, but a running layup by Ross sliced it to 30-25 heading into the second.

The figurative wheels fell off in the second. Leonard missed all five of his shots, the Raptors shot a combined 30 per cent, and a running dunk by Nicola Vucevic put Orlando up by 16. Green’s three-pointer with a second left on the clock capped an 8-0 Raptors run to cut Orlando’s lead to 57-49 at halftime.
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