The Cavs will meet Golden State on Monday for the second time this season on seemingly wobbly knees, as they are on a three-game losing streak they failed to arrest during a 97-95 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
With point guard Kyle Lowry also sidelined for the Cleveland game because of a bruised tailbone, it was remarkable how easily the Raptors were still able to dominate the defending Eastern Conference champions. He finished with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, while Kevin Love had 21 points and 10 rebounds.
He baited LeBron James into a late technical foul.
That's why two teams played two very different games Thursday night, but left Air Canada Centre in the same exact place: waiting for the spring, when the real versions of both will emerge.
It was the latest impressive performance from a Raptors team that is on pace for the best record in franchise history, and the latest clunker from a Cavaliers team that has now surrendered its three highest point totals of the season in its last three games, and sits 29th among the 30 National Basketball Association teams in defensive efficiency halfway through the season.
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"It feels good, but it's a long season", a more subdued Stephenson said in the locker room. "Nevertheless, the superstar talent of Oklahoma City's Paul George or New Orleans' DeMarcus Cousins, each deserving of that Nets first-rounder, won't see the light in this trade market as of right now, league sources said, as those teams are fully focused on winning with each respective player".
It was a stunning twist, coming nearly exactly nine months after the Cavs rallied from a 26-point deficit on the same court to beat IN in the playoffs. This time, to the Indiana Pacers.
The Warriors will be on the second night of a back-to-back, coming off a 108-94 win in Milwaukee Friday night.
"Shouldn't have came down to that point, but it did", said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue after the game (ESPN). They lost the lead and went on to drop the game by five. "He's a little dirty", James said. The difference now is whether other teams in the East have caught up to them? "He played well, though". McMillan let him play the rest of the way.
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After draining a 3-pointer, Lance Stephenson gets into LeBron James' face and the two exchange words. The Pacers were then stopped on multiple chances to increase their lead, but the Cavaliers were unable to convert on any of those opportunities.
"Just trying to be aggressive", James said. He just turned and threw the ball without looking, so I knew I had an opportunity to get the steal. The Pacers had a better turnover percentage (7.7 vs. 10.4) and had a much better offensive rebounding percentage (25.5 vs. 19.6). They led Game Three of their First-Round series against the Cavs by 26-points. They are 1-6 in those seven. Cleveland had a 39-18 scoring advantage on fast-break points. Cleveland played well after that but IN got kept it with an arm's length. The 16-point margin of defeat equaled the club's largest of the season. IN is 17-5 when making 10 or more 3s in a game. Turner has been out with an injured right elbow.
The Boston Celtics climbed off the mat at London's O2 Arena, rallying from a 22-point first-half deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-103.
The Raptors will reach the midway point of their schedule Saturday with their 41st game, and their 29 wins are the most they have had half way through a season in franchise history. "But once playoffs do start, teams can load up, they can game plan for you".
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Despite his win, England's Casey said his opponents fought hard: "What great golf we played, but the Asians threw a lot at us".