The Toronto Raptors returned home from their 5 game road trip and took a massive 103-99 win over the Eastern conference leading Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a roller coaster night in which the two teams exchanged the lead 16 times. Kyle Lowry led the Raptors in scoring with 27 as he carried Toronto through pivotal stages of the game. The offence faltered for Cleveland as Kevin Love who was making it rain 3’s early fell out of range and LeBron James didn’t lift in the clutch either, he had 24 points for the night but only 5 in the final quarter 3 of which were from the free throw line. The Raptors were also sporting black and gold jerseys in honor of Drake night.
There was no separating the two teams at the end of the first quarter and the Raptors were able to pull back a Cleveland run late in the second to have the game tied again heading into the main break. Both teams got things going offensively in the third with the Raptors outscoring the Cavaliers 33-31 for the quarter. A Mo Williams 3 from beyond half way on the buzzer meant the Raptors would only head into the final frame up by 2. The fourth quarter was much more defensive as neither team could find its shooting game, eventually the Raptors were able to pull away though taking a 9-0 run midway through the term.
Cleveland almost made a comeback when a pair of LeBron James free throws cut the lead to 5 with just over two minutes to play. The ensuring Toronto possession saw Bismack Biyombo score a critical bucket while drawing the foul on Love. The of slapping his bicep in a mock celebration of Bron-Bron was one for the memories. If that wasn’t sweet enough, Patrick Patterson nailed the 3-pointer to put the nail in Cleveland’s coffin.
At times, especially during the final quarter Toronto was unable to get anything to go but during other periods everything was getting in. Toronto found the basket when it mattered, thankfully when they were struggling so was Cleveland. Biyombo got it going late with the help of point-GOD Kyle Lowry. Every starter for the Raptors finished in double-figures tonight against the Cavs. Rotations were tight with Dwane Casey in this playoff like atmosphere as only 8 players played 10 or more minutes. The woes for the bench continued, however Patterson saw extended minutes for his floor spacing and eventually sunk the 3-point dagger securing a Raptors victory.
DeMarre Carroll had the job on the self proclaimed “world’s best player” and boy did he make that statement look silly. David Blatt did as usual and rested James in the late 3rd, early 4th part of the game but when he was brought on to make the difference Carroll among others shut it down. The Cavs combined to shoot just 44% from the field this game with the Raptors making them work for just about every possession. The Raps did a solid job defending the rim with Biyombo in the middle holding James to just 5 fourth quarter points. What matters is the Raptors got key stops when it mattered and rode to victory.
It sure was not pretty early, Kevin Love was dominating the boards and Cleveland (a typically strong rebounding team) was able to take multiple offensive boards on the first half. However in the end Toronto picked it up, Luis Scola and Bismack Biyombo completing some key stops. Yes Toronto was out rebounded 42-40 but if their was a stat for clutch rebounds it would have been in favour of the Raptors who without key centre Jonas Valanciunas found the way in the end.
Game Ball: Kyle Lowry
The Raptors starting point guard was huge on offence finishing with 27 points on an efficient 11/17 shooting while dropping 6 dimes in the process. Credit also has to go to the team basketball concept with Raptors on both ends of the floor. Lowry’s chemistry with Biyombo this evening was a huge part of why the Raptors were able to come a away with a win on Drake Night.