Toronto Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-99 Monday to tie the Eastern Conference Finals at two wins apiece. The Raptors are now two wins away from making their first-ever NBA Finals appearance.
Toronto was written off after back-to-back blowouts in the first two games against a rampant Cavaliers squad that entered the series after sweeping the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds. But Toronto fed off of their home crowd to turn the series around.
Kyle Lowry, who was lambasted for his poor showing in the first two games, scored 35 points Monday including a game-clinching layup in the final minute, while DeMar DeRozan added another 32 points as the Raptors proved why they’re worthy opponents to LeBron James & Co. |Final Box Score|
After the win, Lowry said his team enjoyed proving doubters wrong. “We have to continue to make sure that when they punch, we punch back. And if they punch three times, we punch four times.”
Bismack Biyombo, who was the architect of the Game 3 victory, had another monster night on the glass with 14 rebounds and 3 blocks, while DeMarre Carroll added 11 points and played lockdown defense on LeBron James for the entity of the game.
Raptors coach calls out doubters
Dwane Casey, coach of Toronto, had a message for detractors who wrote off his team after losing the first two games of the series. “Everybody can bury us and put us under, but we’re not quitting. We’re not in this just to win one game, to not just get swept. We’re in this to win,” Casey had said after the Game 2 loss. Did the detractors fuel Toronto?
Incidentally, the Cavs lost back-to-back playoff games to an Eastern Conference foe for the first time since 2010 when they lost three consecutive games to Boston Celtics.
Cavs stars James (29 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and Kyrie Irving (26 points, 6 assists) had good games but the other wheel in the Big Three, Kevin Love, had a forgettable night (4-14 FG) with 10 points and 7 rebounds from 32 minutes. Luckily for the Eastern Conference champions, Channing Frye added 12 points off the bench, with 9 of them coming in the crucial fourth quarter.
The Cavs outscored the Raptors 30-27 in the final quarter to make a game out of it after trailing the home team 57-41 at halftime. Cavs actually outscored Raptors 58-48 in the second half but it wasn’t enough to close the gap and assert a 3-1 series lead.
The series will now return to Cleveland for Game 5. The Raptors can take a 3-2 lead and return home for Game 6 to try and close out the series. The Cavs will be under pressure to protect home court.