Toronto Raptors win crucial playoff game

Story highlights Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry’s layup went in. This victory capped a rousing turnaround for the Raptors in the playoff race. After four straight losses to close out April 9, the NBA…

Toronto Raptors win crucial playoff game

Story highlights Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry’s layup went in.

This victory capped a rousing turnaround for the Raptors in the playoff race.

After four straight losses to close out April 9, the NBA Playoff race was a tight one heading into the weekend. But by Sunday, as the Toronto Raptors faced off against the Sacramento Kings in what could have been their last game of the regular season, the stakes were high.

Instead, the Raptors ended up racking up a 108-89 victory over the Kings to propel them into the playoffs as a first-round opponent to the Boston Celtics or the Milwaukee Bucks.

“First, (the game was) absolutely huge for us,” said Raptors star point guard Kyle Lowry. “No doubt about it. This is the playoffs. I think everybody should show up, and I felt we really came out really aggressive, which led to us winning the game.”

This victory capped a much-needed rebound for the Raptors, who had lost five out of their final six games before Saturday’s tip-off.

“We’ve gone through a bunch of ups and downs all year,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse. “I really like where we’re at right now.”

To kick off the game, the Raptors connected on a barrage of three-pointers, including one from star point guard Kyle Lowry. After receiving the pass, Lowry rose above the defense and threw down an impressive reverse layup.

The putback gave the Raptors an early 11-4 lead.

It didn’t last long. Thanks to buckets from Jared Sullinger and Pascal Siakam, the Raptors kept the pressure on the Kings with a 19-7 run to close out the first quarter, giving the Raptors a 31-24 lead.

Late in the second quarter, as the Raptors outscored the Kings 30-16 to start the third, fans of the Raptors showered the home team with deafening chants of “Let’s go Raptors!”

The lead grew to 20 before the Kings even touched the ball during the quarter.

The 3-point barrage continued with Raptors star DeMar DeRozan going deep on four of five shots — including one long-range shot that bounced off the back of the rim but was able to find its way through the net.

DeRozan wound up with 25 points in the victory.

If it wasn’t for a late-game comeback from the Kings — courtesy of a 3-pointer from Willie Cauley-Stein, who had a game-high 27 points — the Raptors could have been celebrating a sixth consecutive loss in April.

Instead, the final minutes of the game featured chanting from the Raptors faithful and a packed Air Canada Centre, located in Toronto, as the Raptors held on for the victory.

“That’s just good teams,” said DeRozan. “That’s what you’ve got to expect when you’re playing against the playoff teams. You’ve got to be a fighter, you’ve got to be a tough guy, and we showed that today.”

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