D.J. Augustin’s late three-pointer lifts Orlando Magic past Toronto Raptors

D.J. Augustin scored 25 points; including a three-pointer with only three seconds remaining to lead the Orlando Magic to a 104-101 victory Saturday over the Raptors to open the playoffs.

Kawhi Leonard recorded 25 points. Pascal Siakam scored 24 for the Raptors.

Fred VanVleet recorded14 points, meanwhile Marc Gasol and Danny Green scored 13 apiece for Toronto. Who entered the game 58-24 in the No. 2 seed for the East from the regular season. This is also their sixth consecutive playoff appearance.

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

Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic recorded 11 points, while Aaron Gordon added a further ten for Orlando. The Magic were 42-40 during the regular season, and this is 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 ten times that of the Magic’s starters. But Orlando, who’ve been one of the league’s hottest teams since the all-star break, didn’t let this bother them.

A 15-0 Orlando run in the second quarter put the visitors up by 16. Leaving the crowd in disbelief and stunned silence. When the Raptors beat Washington in Game one last season, it snapped a streak of ten successive losses.

Toronto roared back with a 20-2 run that straddled the second and third quarters. Meaning, they took a small 76-65 lead into the fourth.

The Raptors led by as many as six points during the fourth. However, Orlando fought back with a 10-2 run that put them back in the lead with less than two minutes remaining.
However, Leonard’s fadeaway jumper from in front of the Orlando bench put the Raptors up by two with just over a minute to play. But, Augustin then answered with a jump shot of his own to tie the game. Gasol had a three-point shot bounce off the rim, before an unapposed Augustin hit the winning three with 3.3 seconds to play.

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

Michael Carter-Williams took an accidental blow to the face from Lowry midway through the third that had blood pouring from his face and required a quick clean-up of the court. Television commentators reported that it appeared that Carter-Williams might have a broken nose.

Game two is on Tuesday in Toronto, and then the series shifts to Orlando for Games three and four next Friday and Sunday.

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

Playoff expectations remain sky-high. After the Raptors had been sent packing from the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third consecutive season. However, Raptors president Masai Ujiri responded by acquiring Leonard and Green before then adding 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 the start when former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas was spotted taking a seat courtside. Valanciunas said in a TV interview during a timeout that he “wanted to come and support my guys.” He was traded to Memphis for Gasol in February,

Toronto Blue Jays star Marcus Stroman was also in attendance.

However, the Raptors were missing key reserve OG Anunoby. He had an emergency appendectomy on Thursday, and there’s no timeline for his return.

Leonard got off to a strong start with 11 points in the opening quarter. While Toronto took an eight-point lead late in the frame. However, 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 attempts, and the Raptors shot a combined 30 per cent. Meanwhile, a running dunk from Nicola Vucevic put the Magic 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.

Peace,

Burke.

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