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Toronto Raptors Blown Out by Wizards in Return to Scotiabank Arena

After over a year of playing on the road, the Toronto Raptors marked their long-awaited return.

In front of a nearly 20,000 person, vaccinated and mask-wearing crowd, the Raptors played their first regular season home game in the Scotiabank arena since 2019.

The game may have ended in a loss, but the team’s returned was a victory in itself.

Coming into the season with some key injuries and a relatively young roster, the Raptors fell down early to the Washington Wizards and were unable to recover.  Led by Bradley Beal’s 23 points, the Wizards routed the Raptors in the season opener by a score of 99-83.

“I thought there wasn’t much pace, we seemed to be in thinking mode a lot until you see that one little stretch there, the way we played in the pre-season. Up the floor, guys are moving, cutting, flying, getting back cuts, getting better shots and all that kind stuff,” head coach Nick Nurse said after the game.

“(We) didn’t handle the moment very well, I don’t think, in lots of areas.”

Not much was going the Raptors way on a night where offense seemed to be a premium. The team shot a putrid 31-percent from the field, and only hit seven three-pointers on the night. Fred VanVleet and rookie Scottie Barnes led all scores with 12 points apiece, but combined to make 10 of 33 shots.

“Everything. Everything,” VanVleet said. “I mean, listen: It’s going to be some of these, right? It is what it is, nothing we can do about it. At this point, we’re trying things, a lot of things, and none of it worked out tonight.”

“I’ve been telling them for a month now, a month and a half. Like, it’s different. You can get all the pats on the back and all the hype and everything that you want. Pre-season was great, training camp was great. It does not matter. There’s different lights out there. These guys are coming to beat us, they don’t care. You know what I mean?” VanVleet added.

One of the highlights of the night for the Raptors was the debut of the hometown kid.

Delano Banton scored 7 points in his first ever regular season game, with the first basket coming off a running three-pointer from centre.

“It’s definitely a great learning experience,” said Banton. “I feel like any time you’re out there, whether you’re down or up, is a time to learn and a time to build on what you’ve been building on. But I feel like just kind of understanding that in this league, you’ll never be out of the game. We have a lot of talented guys. So whether we’re down 30 or 20, it’s kind of next possession, keep playing, keep fighting. At any point the game could change, and with a fan base like we have, momentum shifts. Just to stay in the game and play to the finish and play until the game’s done.”

The Raptors will now look to regroup as they look towards Friday night when they take on the Boston Celtics with the hope that their offense comes alive after being held in check in their home opener.

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