TORONTO – Bradley Beal scored 23 factors, Montrezl Harrell had 22, and the Washington Wizards spoiled the Raptors’ long-awaited return to Toronto with a 98-83 victory on Wednesday.
Fred VanVleet and rookie Scottie Barnes had 12 factors apiece to prime Toronto. OG Anunoby had 11 factors and 10 rebounds, whereas Goran Dragic and Montreal native Khem Birch every had 9 factors.
Anticipation had been sky excessive forward of the Raptors’ first regular-season sport at Scotiabank Area in 600 days.
However the rebuilding Raptors, with out veteran Kyle Lowry for the primary time in a decade, struggled from the opening whistle. They trailed by 20 factors within the first half. The hole grew to 29 within the third quarter.
A spirited comeback try, sparked by rookie and Toronto native Dalano Banton, lastly gave followers a cause to cheer. Banton entered the sport with 25 seconds left within the third in his NBA debut, and promptly knocked down a buzzer-beating three from 49 toes out to slice the Wizards’ result in 81-59 with one quarter to play.
A dunk by Montreal native Birch punctuated an 11-4 Raptors run that pulled them to inside 15 factors, and introduced the capability crowd of 19,800 — together with Drake and Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner — to life.
Anunoby linked on a three-pointer with 4:28 to play that reduce the distinction to 13. A Barnes free throw made it a 10-point sport, however that was as shut as they’d come.
The Raptors, who’re nonetheless with out Pascal Siakam who’s recovering from shoulder surgical procedure, have been scattered on the offensive finish via the primary three quarters, tossing up off-target three-pointers — they have been 4-for-25 from distance heading into the fourth quarter — and losing quick break probabilities.
The take-away was these new-look Raptors have an extended option to go. However on night time, they might be enjoyable to look at.
They shot a horrible 30.9 per cent on the night time, 20.6 per cent from behind the arc. Washington, in the meantime, shot 45 per cent from the sphere.
Solely 4 Raptors stay from the roster that performed in Toronto on Feb. 28, 2020, a sport towards Charlotte that solely historical past made memorable. COVID-19 shuttered the NBA lower than two weeks later.
Final season, border restrictions and COVID-19 protocols pressured the Raptors to name Amalie Area in Tampa, Fla., dwelling — however it was a poor substitute for the true factor. They have been the one NBA workforce pressured to play outdoors their market.
The Raptors have been permitted 50 per cent capability at Scotiabank for the pre-season, getting the inexperienced gentle from the Ontario authorities on Oct. 12 for a full crowd.
The emotional pre-game ceremony featured a spoken phrase poem “We Again,” by Hannah Flores. Rapper Kardinal Offishall carried out “The Anthem,” his iconic ode to Toronto.
Banton, who grew up within the Toronto neighbourhood of Rexdale — he’s the primary Canadian ever drafted by the Raptors — couldn’t comprise his big grin throughout participant introductions.
VanVleet was met with a raucous ovation when he took the mic at centre courtroom. He thanked the gang for his or her assist, saying “We’re all enthusiastic about this yr, so let’s get it began the precise method.”
Washington had different concepts.
The Raptors acquired off to a tough begin, capturing 29.2 per cent within the first quarter to path 26-18 heading into the second.
They have been even shakier within the second quarter, and when Raul Neto scored on a working reverse layup with 3:47 left within the half, the Wizards went up by 20. Washington led 57-37 heading into the halftime break.
The Raptors are in Boston on Friday, then return dwelling to host the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Oct. 20, 2021.
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