It was a tale of two halves for the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night as they fell to the Toronto Raptors, 100-96. The Cavs had 55 points in the first half on 54 percent shooting from the field but only managed to score 41 for the rest of the game.
All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter after colliding with Raptors forward Jonas Valanciunas. Irving shot two one-handed free throws then went into the locker room with team trainers – he did not return. Irving finished with 12 points and four assists in 25 minutes. Rudy Gay was a late scratch for the Raptors as the team declared him out with back spasms.
These types of games are a reoccurring theme for the Cavs; they play a solid first two quarters and have the lead heading into half, but then they don’t come out with the same intensity in the third quarter. The defense held the Raptors to under 40 percent shooting, however, they allowed the Raptors to score 33 points in the third quarter.
The Cavs didn’t have an answer for Raptors forward Amir Johnson, who scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Point guard Kyle Lowry had 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists. It was Lowry’s devastating turnaround jumper with less than 15 seconds left that gave the Raptors a two-possession lead, pushing the game out of reach for the Cavs.
Over the last 10 games Tristan Thompson is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds. They have been able to rely on him getting a double-double every game, and tonight he had a quiet 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cavs had another pleasing performance from their bench, which was led by C.J. Miles. Miles finished the game with 15 and lit the nets up in the first half, hitting three after three. Marreese Speights had 11 points in only 16 minutes of play.
Last time in Toronto it was Irving who took over in the fourth quarter and would eventually hit a game-wining three with less than a second left on the clock. However, when Irving went down in the third quarter, Dion Waiters took over the point guard role. Waiters fought to the very end but wasn’t able to close the game. He finished with 21 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter.
Aside from Thompson, the Cavs’ front line, consisting of Tyler Zeller and Alonzo Gee, was virtually invisible. The duo shot 4-of-13 from the field and combined for 12 points.
Tonight was only Toronto’s second win in eight games.
Cleveland plays again on Tuesday as they come back home to Quicken Loans Arena to take on the Washington Wizards. The Wizards are rebuilding just as the Cavs are and have a talented roster but can’t seem to get their games to result in more wins. The Cavs won both meetings this year against Washington and have held them to under 85 points in both games. Irving’s status for the game is unknown. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.