TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors dug themselves into a first half deficit on Sunday night that was too much to come back from.
Bradley Beal scored a game-high 38 points and Marcin Gortat added 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds as the Washington Wizards defeated the Toronto Raptors 107-96.
The Wizards (5-4) led by as many as 19 points for much of the first two quarters.
"From that point on we were fighting uphill," Toronto's DeMar DeRozan said. "It got away from us again."
The Raptors managed to cut the deficit down to three points after DeRozan hit a three-point shot with 7:24 remaining in the fourth quarter but never held a lead at any point in the game. DeRozan led his team with 26 points.
Toronto (5-4) struggled to get into a rhythm after the opening tipoff. They were 5 of 19 from the field (26 per cent) after the opening quarter and trailed the Wizards 32-17.
The first quarter point total was Toronto's lowest offensively this season.
Slow starts have been an issue this year for Toronto. It was the third time in five games where the Raps had scored less than 20 points in the opening quarter.
"We have to decide what kind of team we're going to be," Toronto head coach Dwane Casey said. "Our starts have been horrendous."
Casey expected his team could be in for a long night, given they had just completed a season-high six-game road trip on the West Coast. What he didn't expect was not having the services of his starting point guard for much of the game.
Kyle Lowry was ejected with 8:08 remaining in the second quarter after picking up back-to-back technical fouls for arguing calls with official JB DeRosa.
"I thought it was unfortunate because people have said worse, far worse than what he said to the official," Casey said. "First off all, if you are a young official, you walk away, you don't sit there and debate about the situation. I was surprised."
Lowry recorded just two points, both coming from the foul line.
He was not made available to the media after the game to explain the situation.
"It helped us. He's a great player, a great scorer, great facilitator," Beal said of the Lowry ejection. "Him going down did help us out a lot. We know next time it probably won't be like that."
Toronto was forced to rely on their depth for the remainder of the game. Thirty-six of Toronto's 96 points came off the bench.
Fred VanVleet filled Lowry's role for much of his absence and contributed eight points in the second half, helping the Raptors get the game within reach.
"We just tried to bring energy and change the pace of the game," VanVleet said. "Obviously, we got a little bit of a spark there to get us back in it, but we have to close it out down the stretch.
The Raptors lost their first game at home this season after starting the campaign with back-to-back wins over the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers.
The Raptors host the Bulls on Tuesday, followed by New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.
Note: The Wizards played without John Wall. The star point guard sustained a shoulder injury on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wizards coach Scott Brooks said the injury was a long-term concern before the game: "It's just maybe another day of rest and let the stinger kind of settle down a little bit." Brooks expects Wall to be back in the Wizard's lineup for their next game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.