The Raptors started slowly against the youthful Cavaliers, but finished with a rush. In just their second road win of the season, the Raps pounded home 35 points in Q4 to dust Cleveland.
Like they did against Houston, the bench, which outscored the starters 59-54, came up huge. Alan Anderson, contributing like crazy since his return from an injured foot, was 5/7 from distance on his way to an 18-point night. Amir Johnson was the epitome of efficiency, missing one field goal & no free throws to count 17. Both men were instrumental in shutting down the Cavalier offence as well, & their two-way play is reflected in the fact they were plus20, & plus16, respectively.
The Raps needed 3+ minutes to score their first bucket, a 3-pointer from Jose Calderon, who shone again, finishing with 23. If there were some sort of award for the player who gets a bucket when the Raps need it most, Jose would win it in a walk. He had 9 points in Q1, & got some help from the equally-reliable DeMar DeRozan, but the Raps were down 7 after 12 minutes.
In Q2, the Raps heated up from distance, as Anderson hit his first two 3s on consecutive trips. Didn’t the Cavs read the scouting reports on this guy? The Raps were getting hurt by Kyrie Irving, the nearest thing the Cavs have to a star-in-waiting. He won’t be waiting long, particularly if his management can assemble some help for him – he’s exceptionally quick & a great passer & shooter. Neither side could pull away, & the Cavs went to the dressing room with a 4-point lead.
Q3 was noteworthy for its tautness, as neither team could go on a run. Calderon hit the last of his 3 3-balls, but Irving stayed hot with a late basket that kept the Cavs within a deuce. Early in Q4, the Raps took a big step when John Lucas, who appears to be emerging from his season-long shooting funk, hit a 3 & was fouled. The 4-point play pushed the Raps lead up to 9, & the Cavs never threatened again. With no defensive presence behind rebounder extraordinaire Anderson Varejao, the Raps ran set plays for easy baskets by Amir & Linas Kleiza. The Raps rolled to a well-earned victory.
Landry Fields dressed but didn’t play. He certainly wasn’t needed, & neither were Aaron Gray & Quincy Acy, who collected DNP-CDs to add to their extensive collection. Mikael Pietrus had another invisible game. Will Coach Casey give Anderson the starter’s job? Jonas Valanciunas, not having a monster Centre to cope with, enjoyed a better night, scoring 8 points & pulling down 7 boards.
The Raps host the Pistons tonight.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.