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Post Game Report Card: Raptors somehow tie the series

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The Toronto Raptors have tied their Eastern conference finals series with a 105-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody was giving this team a chance, and here we are. Wow.

After getting crushed on the road, somehow, someway, the Raptors took both games at home and made this a best of 3. The Raptors again came out ready to play in Game 4 of their play-off series against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The Raps took an early lead and blew the game open during the second quarter when Kyle Lowry scored 15 of his 35 points, as Toronto outscored Cleveland 30-17 to gain a 57-41 halftime lead.

Although leading by nine at the end of the fourth the game was far from over. Cleveland’s Channing Frye caught fire and with back to back 3’s cut the Raptors lead to 1. The teams would exchange baskets and the lead as both defences struggled to get what would have been a critical stop. A pair of LeBron James free throws put the Cavs up by 3 with 6 minutes remaining. It just had the feeling of a devestating loss. That wasn’t the case. Toronto’s all star backcourt brought it back.

With the scores tied at 96 all the Cavaliers finally missed a shot in the fourth quarter. From then  on Toronto made them pay going on a 9-3 run to close the game. DeMar DeRozan was huge in the clutch as he constantly forced his way to the basket and found points either from the field or line, this included a game sealing bank shot with 1:33 to play after a Kyrie Irving 3 had brought the game back to within 2. Just unbelievable grit and toughness from this team – and Raptors fans have to be feeling a mixture of shock and excitement. The ACC was absolutely phenomenal tonight once again.

Bismack Biyombo led the game in rebounds. For Cleveland, LeBron James put in 29 but it was his and Cleveland’s inability to penetrate the Raptors defence in the clutch final moments that saw Toronto come through. Game 5 returns to Cleveland on Wednesday night.

Coming into the matchup the Raptors had listed starting centre Jonas Valanciunas as questionable although he didn’t see any minutes. Dwane Casey said he considered playing JV, making it likely we see an appearance in game 5. Luis Scola started but Patrick Patterson played the majority of the game.

Offence: A

35 efficient points from Kyle Lowry and 32 from DeMar DeRozan was the story of the night. This has to be the greatest duo performance in Raptor playoff history. The Raptors ability to continue to pour on points every time Cleveland made a run was incredible. Lowry was amazing, as he went 14-20 from the field and 4-7 from 3. DeRozan managed 14-23 and was monstrous when it mattered. Him and DeMarre Carroll finished with the highest +/- impacts with +11 each. Carroll also chipped in 11 points and Patterson nine. Corey Joseph managed 8 including a pivotal drive against LeBron James to give the Raptors back the lead when the teams were exchanging baskets in the fourth. It was a well rounded performance led by the two All-Stars in Lowry and DeRozan.

Defence: A

A, because when it mattered they got it done. Overall the defence had been very strong until the 4th quarter run by the Cavs. Biyombo was snapping up any misses and the Raptors lead was gained through giving up just 17 second quarter points. The fourth quarter began poorly. Cleveland didn’t miss for over 7 minutes and the Raptors were struggling to get a stop. Again, the grit of this team was in full display as they rode the energy of the ACC to get game winning stops. The Raptors held Cleveland to under 100 points again and managed to ride strong late defence to the win.

Rebounding: B+

Bismack Biyombo has just been huge all play-offs and again he came up big tonight. 14 rebounds led the game and even though Cleveland out rebounded Toronto 38-35 for the night the Raptors did not give up many second chance points. As the game progressed, the rebounding improved as Toronto’s play on the boards helped keep alive a few critical offensive possessions and stop some of Cleveland’s.

Game Ball: Kyle Lowry

What a performance. Lowry had 35 points on 14-20 shooting, along with 5 assists and 5 rebounds. In the clutch, this was the Kyle Lowry show featuring DeMar DeRozan and “the others”. Kyle Lowry proved why he is a superstar tonight and helped silence a lot of people.

 

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