DeRozan scores 37 points, but Rap­tors fall to 3-0 against Cleve­land

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY LORI EWING

On a night all-star point guard Kyle Lowry sat on the bench nurs­ing a sprained an­kle, DeMar DeRozan’s best play­off game of his ca­reer wasn’t enough.

DeRozan had a ca­reer play­off high 37 points, but the Cleve­land Cava­liers pulled away to beat the Toronto Rap­tors 11594. And now Toronto is one loss away from elim­i­na­tion.

LeBron James scored 35 points to top the Cava­liers, who take a 3-0 lead into Sunday’s Game 4 of the best-of-seven Eastern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal.

Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas added 19 points for the Rap­tors, while Nor­man Pow­ell chipped in with 13 and Serge Ibaka had 12.

The loss of Lowry was a huge blow to Toronto. The feisty point guard sprained his left an­kle on Wed­nes­day, joined his team­mates for warmup, but was limp­ing no­tice­ably. He was listed as ac­tive but spent the night on the bench. Cory Joseph made his first play­off start in Lowry’s place, but fin­ished with just four points.

The Rap­tors were happy to be home after be­ing routed by a com­bined 33 points in Games 1 and 2 in Cleve­land, buoyed by the fact they were in the same po­si­tion last sea­son. Toronto dropped two games in Cleve­land

in last year’s con­fer­ence fi­nals but bounced back with two wins at home.

The Rap­tors led by as many as five points in the third quar­ter. They’d missed their first 12 three-point at­tempts be­fore Pow­ell fi­nally ended the lon­grange drought with 3:09 to play in the third quar­ter. Kyle Korver drilled back-to-back three-point­ers to send Cleve­land into the fourth quar­ter with a 79-77 lead.

But the Rap­tors went ice cold in the fourth. Delon Wright’s bas­ket less than a minute into the quar­ter was Toronto’s only field goal for al­most six min­utes. And when Bramp­ton, Ont., na­tive Tris­tan Thomp­son scored with 5:47 to play, it gave the Cavs a 99-80 lead, much to the dis­may of the noisy, white­clad Air Canada Cen­tre crowd that in­cluded Gord Downie of the Trag­i­cally Hip and rap­per Drake. The two Cana­dian mu­si­cians met on the court at half­time for a warm em­brace.

A bas­ket with Valan­ci­u­nas ended a 17-1 Cavs run with 5:20 to play, but the game had got away from Toronto by that point.

The Cavs shot 51 per cent and were 13 of 23 from three­p­oint range. Toronto couldn’t buy a three-point bas­ket, go­ing 2 of 18 on the night.

Coach Dwane Casey had promised more fight from his team, say­ing they hadn’t been phys­i­cal enough in Cleve­land.

“You work all year to go against the champ in a box­ing match. You train, you hit the heavy bag and you bounce out and you come out and go to the rope-a-dope in­stead of throwing a punch,’’ Casey said. “To beat the champ, you have to throw punches. Whether they’re hay­mak­ers, un­der­cuts, what­ever, maybe a cou­ple below the belt, but you’ve got to box.’’

Valan­ci­u­nas took the mes­sage to heart, send­ing James sail­ing into the court-side seats after the two got tan­gled up.

The phys­i­cal play failed to slow the hard-charg­ing Cavs.

After scor­ing just five points on Wed­nes­day, DeRozan was the one bright spot on the night. He av­er­ages 32.7 points in games after sub-10 point per­for­mance, and was true to form, shoot­ing 12 for 23 and mak­ing all 13 free throw at­tempts.

CP PHOTO

Toronto Rap­tors guard DeMar DeRozan sits on the bench dur­ing the sec­ond half of game three of an NBA play­off se­ries bas­ket­ball game against the Cleve­land Cava­liers in Toronto on Fri­day.

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