The Toronto Raptors won their last game on a buzzer-beater, but lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in like fashion. Kyrie Irving drained a long three ball with .7 seconds on the clock to silence an exuberant ACC crowd. Following a timeout, a desperation catch-and-shoot play was brushed aside without advancing to the shooting stage, and the Raps were losers again.
Irving left no doubt in anyone’s mind about his All-Star credentials, draining 32 points on 13/26 shooting, which included 3/5 from distance. He was the beneficiary of some dubious calls on his drives, so enjoyed several very questionable and1 opportunities. Jose Calderon, who’s not a whiner, could be seen saying “I never touched him” on one such. None of that detracts from Irving’s brilliant performance, and his luminous future.
The Raptors squandered a solid fourth-quarter lead, which twice was 11 points. The Cavs needed only 3 minutes, and a 12-0 run, to grab their first lead. While the Raps eventually rediscovered their offense, the youthful Cavs were showing no signs of having played the night before, and pulled to a 5-point advantage. Terrence Ross drained his second 3-ball of the quarter, and shortly after took a Calderon pass in for an easy layup to tie the match. The Raps nudged ahead on an Amir Johnson cram off a nice pass from Alan Anderson, got a stop, and had a chance to ice the game when Johnson received a pass under the basket. However, Tristan Thompson, who was a force all night, blocked the attempt, and Irving went coast to coast for an amazing driving layup. Calderon turned the corner on Irving, and his high-banking layup was good off glass with 12 seconds to play. Cue Irving, again, to provide more heartbreak in a season which has already had more than enough.
Kyle Lowry had another miserable game – while he did top the scoresheet with 7 assists, 1/7 shooting was hugely disappointing. DeMar DeRozan was wonderful early, pouring in 12 points in the first quarter with his fine jump shot. Cleveland pushed him to the perimeter after that, and he’s no threat outside 20 feet. He could manage only 3 points the rest of the match. Johnson and Ed Davis were solid again, combining for 34 points and 21 boards. Ed needs another summer of work on his shaky jumper, but his skill at presenting close to the basket leads to many easy hoops. Anderson’s distance shooting has gone missing (0/6 in his last 2 games), but he continues to demonstrate an impressive ability to find other ways to contribute. On one play early, he ran down the Cleveland ball carrier for a steal from behind, then dished to Johnson for a finger roll. He finished with 17 points by attacking the basket.
Landry Fields started at small forward, but I don’t know why. Quincy Acy blocked 2 shots in 11+ minutes. Two of Cleveland’s newly acquired players, Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights, paid immediate dividends, combining for 29 points.
The Raptors welcome the Golden State Warriors to the ACC on Monday night.
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.