The Kyle Lowry-less Toronto Raptors dropped a hard-fought contest tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the loss, Toronto slips to third in the standings with Cleveland sitting only a half game behind with the tiebreaker in their possession. In the absence of arguably their best player, the Raptors put up a commendable performance. Just when it seemed that the Cavs had too much talent for the Raptors to withstand, they come right back and show Canada just what their made of – nails. These Raptors are as tough as nails and it showed in their ability to dig deep and make this game something worth watching. Jonas Valanciunas put in work tonight recording another double-double with a line of 26 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. The Big 3 of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 77 huge points. It wasn’t so much about how many points the Cleveland stars put up tonight, it was more-so about when they hit those buckets. Major impact players stepping it up time and time again.
Without Kyle Lowry, many thought the Raptors would’ve been steadily handled in this matchup against Cleveland’s improved defence. However this was not the case, as Toronto put up 112 points on 54% shooting. DeMar DeRozan came out focused on getting to the rim and finished the game with 25 points. The added bonus to all those points is that they did it without turning the ball over, only committing 8 without the services of their starting point guard. With the Raptors starved for points a late game surge from DeRozan and Lou Williams willed the Raps back into the game scoring a franchise record 21 fourth quarter points which gave them a fighting chance to win. Great effort gentleman, let’s see it carry over into the matchup against the Charlotte Hornets this Friday.
When you face a team built around 3 all-star players it’s difficult to get stops. With that being said the Raptors did whatever they could to contain LeBron but it simply wasn’t enough. Early on his penetration allowed him to become a distributor, which saw the likes of Love and Timofey Mozgov getting early touches. The real killer for Toronto was looks LeBron was able to create for James Jones who delivered trey after trey after trey after trey (4 if you were counting). If it wasn’t LeBron’s penetration killing the Raptors it was Kyrie in transition using his ability to change speeds breaking down the Raptors defence. A couple of unbelievable LeBron James three-pointers and just like that…the game’s out of reach. Once again…great effort gentleman…great effort.
The Raptors lost the battle on the glass tonight 35-34 without Tristan Thompson somehow making his presence known. The Canadian pulled down a single rebound which is uncharacteristic for Thompson’s style of play. There were a few rebounds that hurt Toronto, leading to an extra Clevland possession, but that’s just nitpicking when it comes down to how Toronto lost the game.
Game Ball: LeBron James
Another game against the Raptors in the ACC, another win. LeBron controlled the tempo of the game from the get go. I don’t know what he has against the Raptors, but it always seems his killer instinct is never in question when he faces the Toronto Raptors. James finished with 29 points, 14 assists and 6 rebounds.