TORONTO: Kyle Lowry’s long jumper from just inside the 3-point line gave him a career high and the Toronto Raptors new life in the Eastern Conference standings.
Lowry’s jumper with 3.8 seconds left over an outstretched Matthew Dellavedova gave the Raptors a 99-97 victory over the Cavs Friday night, shaving the Cavs’ lead for the top seed to 2 games and more importantly giving the Raptors the tiebreaker.
The Raptors won the season series, 2-1.
The Cavs gave away leads of 12 and 14 points and lost for the second time in their last three games despite LeBron James playing the entire second half.
The Cavs had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but LeBron James’ 3-pointer missed everything.
Love’s initial inbounds pass was batted back toward him by Bismack Biyombo. Love narrowly got out of the way of the ball touching him, which would’ve given possession back to the Raptors. The Cavs were awarded the ball again after a lengthy review and Love quickly inbounded to James, who is shooting under 28 percent from 3-point range this season. James shot an airball from the top of the perimeter, which deftly summed up the Cavs’ evening.
Lowry scored 43 points, surpassing his previous season high of 41 set earlier this season against the Golden State Warriors. The Raptors had little go right offensively aside from Lowry, who has tortured the Cavs all season. He averaged 31 points and 8.3 assists in this season series.
James finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and Love had 20 points and nine rebounds. Kyrie Irving managed a relatively quiet 10 points on 4 of 11 shooting while Lowry shined.
The Raptors matched a franchise record with their 10th consecutive home victory, their longest home winning streak in 14 years.
The Cavs built a 12-point lead early in the second quarter and gave it all back, then rebuilt a 14-point lead late in the third quarter and again gave it all away.
Jonas Valanciunas’ free throws with three minutes left tied the game at 91 after Lowry’s three-point play and DeMar DeRozan’s first basket of the game pulled the Raptors within striking distance.
DeRozan was battling flu-like symptoms and missed his first 10 shots. He didn’t score his only basket until late in the game and finished with just six points. Terrence Ross scored 15 off the bench.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has maintained his desire to clinch the top seed in the East and the Cavs missed a terrific chance to put a great deal of distance between themselves and the Raptors, who have remained one of the league’s surprise teams. Coach Dwane Casey, however, kept insisting prior to the game he wasn’t viewing this as any sort of measuring stick.
“They’re a good team, one of the best teams in the league,” Case said of the Cavs. “It’s exciting to have those games and our place should be excited. But I don’t think it defines who we are or what we’re about. I think it’s a good game for us to find out what we need to work on to continue to improve on what other areas we need to improve in.”