Raptors 102, Wizards 92
Toronto overcame a halftime deficit in a road playoff game for the first time in 24 tries, using 24 points from Kyle Lowry and a tremendous effort from its finally whole second unit to beat host Washington in Game 6 on Friday night and end their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Toronto trailed by as many as 12 points in the first quarter and was down 53-50 at the end of the second. The Raptors’ first lead did not come until the third quarter, and they were back down by five points entering the final quarter.
But with star guards Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who had a personal series-low 16 points, resting to begin the fourth, reserves led by point guard Fred VanVleet turned around the game, and the Raptors outscored Washington 29-14 in the last quarter. Bothered by a bad right shoulder, VanVleet had played a total of three minutes in the series until Friday, but he was just what Toronto needed in this game, with five points, four assists and four rebounds.
“It was great to have our full bench back. Freddie back out there with the guys,” DeRozan said. “Just a testament to what they did all year.”
Toronto’s reserves overwhelmed Washington’s in points, 21-6, and rebounds, 15-3, in the second half.
“I’m still looking for that manual that says you can’t play that second unit. They’re too young. They’re too this. They’re too that,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “They closed it out for us tonight.”
The home team had won each of the first five games, but the Raptors were finally able to break that road hex and close things out. The East’s No. 1 seed will face LeBron James’ Cavaliers or the Indiana Pacers next. The Pacers forced a Game 7 on Sunday by avoiding elimination with a 121-87 victory over the Cavs on Friday night.
Asked whether he has a preference for the upcoming opponent, DeRozan answered with one word: “No.”
This marks the Raptors’ third consecutive trip to the second round of the playoffs; they last failed to get that far in 2015, when they were swept in the opening round by the Wizards.
But this time, Washington bows out earlier than it was hoping when the season began with grandiose talk of a run to the conference finals. Instead, the Wizards were without John Wall for 41 games and wound up with the No. 8 seeding.
Wall had 23 points and eight assists in Game 6. Bradley Beal led Washington with 32 points. But the Wizards’ run of eight home playoff wins in a row came to a close.
NOTEBOOK: Otto Porter sidelined
Forward Otto Porter Jr. missed a must-win Game 6 for the Wizards in their playoff series against the Raptors because of an injured left leg.
The Wizards announced a few hours before the scheduled tipoff that Porter is sidelined indefinitely after having a medical procedure earlier Friday to prevent permanent damage to muscles in the leg because of compartment syndrome.
Porter has averaged only 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists while making just five 3-pointers during the playoffs.
Stephen Curry is impatient and eager to get back in a game for the Golden State Warriors, yet he knows it’s not worth risking re-injuring his left knee by pushing his return too soon.
The two-time MVP on Friday went through his first 5-on-5 scrimmage since the injury but coach Steve Kerr wasn’t ready to proclaim Curry a go for Saturday night — that might not be decided until after the morning shoot-around. Kerr listed Curry’s status as questionable for a second consecutive day ahead of Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena.
NBA: Raptors rally late, wrap up series win
Raptors 102, Wizards 92