James scores 29, Cavaliers beat Raptors 120-112
TORONTO (AP) — LeBron James scored 29 points and matched a season high with 14 assists, Kevin Love had 22 points and 10 rebounds and the Cleveland Cavaliers held on late to beat the Toronto Raptors 120-112 on Wednesday night.
Kyrie Irving scored 26, J.R. Smith had 15 and James Jones 14 as the Cavaliers won their second straight and improved to 9-8 in the second game of back-to-backs.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan had 25 points for the Raptors, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Lou Williams scored 21 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough for the Raptors. Toronto’s All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry was rested for the third straight game.
James finished four rebounds shy of a triple-double as Cleveland clinched the season series against the Raptors with its third win in four meetings.
Valanciunas was called for a flagrant-1 foul after he took down a driving James with a horse collar tackle late in the third, a play that drew a loud cheer from the sellout crowd of 19,800.
Williams opened the fourth with a 3 and a trio of free throws, bringing Toronto to within four at 84-80. Williams made three more free throws at 9:22, and a 3 by Terrence Ross at 8:51 cut the gap to one at 91-90.
After a timeout by Cleveland, Smith missed a 3 and Williams hit one at the other end, giving Toronto its first lead since the opening quarter.
Greivis Vasquez tied it at 97 by making one of two at the line at 5:51, but a 3 by James Jones and a pair of free throws by James put Cleveland up 102-97 just over a minute later.
James made 3-pointers on either side of a layup by Valanciunas as Cleveland took at 108-101 lead with 3:26, leading to a Toronto timeout.
Williams hit a 3 and Valanciunas tipped in his own miss as Toronto cut it to 108-106 at 2:25, but Smith answered with a 3, Cleveland’s 15th of the game, at 2:07. After Irving made a pair of free throws, James sealed it with an acrobatic driving layup that put Cleveland up 115-106 with 55 seconds left.
DeRozan, who scored a season-high 35 points in Monday’s win at Philadelphia, had 12 in the first but Irving and Timofey Mozgov each scored six for Cleveland, who led 28-25 after one.
Love scored six points in a 12-2 Cleveland run as the Cavaliers opened a 48-36 lead with 3:25 left in the half. Love had 11 points in the second, and made three of Cleveland’s five 3-pointers, to put the Cavaliers up 57-43 at halftime.
Cleveland led 70-51 at 8:37 of the third after back-to-back 3’s by Love and Irving, but Toronto rallied to make it 78-70 with 1:54 left. Love and Irving each scored eight points in the third, overcoming 10 from DeRozan, as the Cavaliers took an 84-74 lead into the fourth.
Cavaliers: Cleveland has three sets of back-to-back games remaining. … The Cavaliers are 10-3 against Atlantic Division opponents, including a 6-1 mark on the road. … James was named Eastern Conference player of the month for February after leading the conference in scoring with 24.4 points per game. His average of 7.3 assists was second most in the East.
Raptors: DeRozan didn’t score in the fourth quarter, missing two field goal attempts. … Vasquez had 13 assists. … Toronto’s next three games are on the road, capping a stretch in which they play nine of 11 away from home. … The Raptors posted their 30th sellout of the season, the third time in team history they’ve done so. Toronto also sold out 30 home games in 2001-02 and 2007-08.
Cavaliers: at Hawks on Friday night
Raptors: at Hornets on Friday night.