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Raptors’ series lead disappears after 106-98 Game 4 loss to Wizards

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Apr 23rd, 2018

The Toronto Raptors saw their playoff series lead disappear on Sunday.

Bradley Beal scored 31 points, while John Wall had 27, and the Washington Wizards beat Toronto 106-98 to tie their opening-round Eastern Conference series at two games apiece.

DeMar DeRozan had 35 points to top Toronto, but it wasn’t be enough. Kyle Lowry had 19 points and seven assists, Jonas Valancunas had 11 points, Jakob Poeltl finished with 10 and Serge Ibaka grabbed 10 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Toronto, where the Raptors lost just seven games in the regular season, then the series returns to Washington for Game 6 on Friday.

The Raptors raced out to an early 12-point lead, and held on until midway through the third quarter of what turned into a nailbiter. A Mike Scott basket at the third-quarter buzzer sent the game into the fourth all tied up at 80-80.

Toronto opened the fourth with an 8-0 run capped by a steal and basket by Delon Wright. But the Wizards responded, and when Marcin Gortat threw down a huge dunk — and then beat his chest and roared — it tied the game with 5:40 to play.

The Raptors caught a break when Beal fouled out with five minutes to play. Wizards coach Scott Brooks was livid at the call, and the crowd chanted “Ref you suck!” Wall pounced on a Raptors turnover with 1:57 to play and his basket gave the Wizards a three-point lead.

With the noisy crowd on its feet, Wall calmly drained a jumper that gave the Wizards a six-point lead with a minute to play. Kelly Oubre iced the victory with a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left, while a stock photo of a sad-looking Drake flashed on the jumbotron.

Turnovers proved costly for Toronto for the second straight night, with the Raptors coughing up 19 points on 18 giveaways, including 11 in the first half.

The towel-waving Capital One Arena crowd was dotted with pockets of Raptors fans, and included Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall.

They were treated to an entertaining game that even featured some comedic relief from Lowry. Gortat lost a shoe in the first half when his shot was blocked by Serge Ibaka. Lowry picked up Gortat’s shoe and helpfully untied it before handing it back with a friendly pat on Gortat’s backside.

The Raptors had expected the Wizards to put up a fierce fight on their home court, where they pulled even with Boston after trailing 2-0 in last year’s playoffs. The Celtics went on to win the series.

The Raptors dominated Washington in Games 1 and 2, winning by scores of 114-106 and 130-119. But they lost Game 3 122-103, giving up 56 combined points to Wall and Beal, and 28 points on 19 turnovers.

DeRozan scored all nine of his first-quarter points on free throws, and OG Anunoby started with the same steely nerves he’s shown all series. During a 16-second stretch, the rookie had a layup, a steal and a dunk that gave the Raptors a nine-point lead. The Raptors would lead by 11 and took a 30-22 lead into the second.

Early through the second, Wright blocked Wall with such force it knocked the all-star on his back. Wright then fed a sprinting Pascal Siakam who finished with a huge dunk, bringing the players on the bench to their feet roaring their approval. The sequence put Toronto ahead by 11 points, and the Raptors took a 51-40 lead into halftime.

Otto Porter Jr. had eight points in three-and-a-half minutes to start the third, and the Wizards tied the game 58-58 with 8:10 left in the quarter. Beal drained a three to give the Wizards their first lead of the game three minutes later.


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