Cavaliers battle but fall to NBA-best Raptors, 106-95
CLEVELAND (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, Fred VanVleet added 15 and the Toronto Raptors won their eighth straight game despite missing All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, 106-95 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
Danny Green and Pascal Siakam added 15 apiece as the Raptors improved the NBA’s best record to 20-4, reaching the 20-win mark quicker than at any time in their history. Toronto also is a league-best 10-2 on the road.
Lowry missed his first game this season with an unspecified back injury. Raptors coach Nick Nurse didn’t provide any details about Lowry’s back other than to say it flared up earlier in the day.
VanVleet started in place of Lowry, the league’s assist leader. With the Cavs still within striking distance, VanVleet dropped a back-breaking 3-pointer with 2:08 left to put Toronto up 10.
Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points and Tristan Thompson had 18 points with 19 rebounds for the Cavs, who hung around but lost their fourth in a row and dropped to 4-18.
Cleveland, which sustained its worst loss of the season on Friday in Boston, did get healthier as starting guard George Hill returned after missing 11 games with a sprained right shoulder. Hill scored eight in 19 minutes.
Toronto was making its first visit to Quicken Loans Arena since May, when the Raptors were swept in four games by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Of course that Raptors team didn’t have Leonard, who came over in a July trade from San Antonio and has given Toronto fans hope that this might finally be the year.
Raptors: Reached 20 wins in 26 games in 2014-15. … Came in shooting a league-best 41 percent on 3-pointers in the past five games, but went only 7 of 26 behind the arc. … Won a franchise record 11 straight last season. … G Norman Powell (left shoulder subluxation) missed his 12th straight game. . Assistant coach Phil Handy was a member of the Cavaliers’ staff for the previous five years, including their 2016 NBA championship team. … Won for just the second time in 13 games in Cleveland.
Cavaliers: All-Star F Kevin Love (foot surgery) made a brief appearance in the locker room before the game. Love, who is no longer required to wear a walking boot full-time joked “I’m walking, it’s a miracle.” The team is expected to update his status in the next few weeks. … Cleveland was also without C Ante Zizic (knee), F Sam Dekker (ankle) and G ,David Nwaba (knee). … Although Hill is back, coach Larry Drew will keep rookie Collin Sexton in the starting lineup. “It gives us another ball-handler on the floor, another guy who can make plays,” Drew said. “It gives us speed, it gives us quickness. I like Collin’s ability to play off the ball, too.”
Thompson — a member of the Canadian national team — is having one of his best seasons. He came in averaging 11.1 points and a career-high 11.0 rebounds. “The kid from Toronto is playing pretty well,” Nurse said. “He’s been a great rebounder for a long time and he is back to his highest level, or even exceeding it, as a complete player this season.”
Raptors: Host Denver on Monday night.
Cavaliers: At Brooklyn on Monday night.
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