Game over

Rap­tors’ sea­son ends with loss to LeBron James, Cava­liers

Cape Breton Post - - Sports -

The Toronto Rap­tors’ sea­son has come to an end - but they didn’t go down with­out a fight.

Serge Ibaka scored 23 points, while DeMar DeRozan added 22 and the Rap­tors took Cleve­land to the last few cou­ple of min­utes be­fore drop­ping a 109102 de­ci­sion to the Cava­liers in Game 4 of their Eastern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal se­ries.

It was the first play­off sweep for Toronto since the open­ing round against Wash­ing­ton in 2015. The Cavs, who dis­patched the Rap­tors in six games in last sea­son’s Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal, be­came the first team ever to start 8-0 in the play­offs in back to back sea­sons.

Cory Joseph, who started for the sec­ond straight game in place of in­jured Kyle Lowry (an­kle) had 20 points and 12 as­sists, while P.J. Tucker fin­ished with 14 points and 12 re­bounds.

LeBron James had 35 points to top the reign­ing NBA cham­pion Cavs, while Kyrie Irv­ing had 27 and Kyle Korver fin­ished with 18.

Hop­ing to stave off elim­i­na­tion, the Rap­tors were more ag­gres­sive from the open­ing whis­tle than they’d been all se­ries. They were mak­ing shots, the Cavs were miss­ing, and Toronto went up by 11 points — their high­est lead of the se­ries.

But the sharp-shoot­ing Cavs weren’t cold for long. Their three-point shots, whether un­con­tested or con­tested, start­ing fall­ing, and can’t-miss Korver, who was ac­quired in Jan­uary from At­lanta for nights just like this, had four in the sec­ond quar­ter alone. The Rap­tors’ lead was a 16-point deficit by early in the third quar­ter.

The Rap­tors found an­other gear in the third, and when Tucker launched a three with 0.8 left in the quar­ter it cut Cleve­land’s lead to 85-80 with one quar­ter left.

Fu­elled by a rau­cous white­clad Air Canada Cen­tre crowd that in­cluded Drake, NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver, and Toronto FC’s Jozy Alti­dore and Eriq Zavaleta, Ibaka scored and drew a foul in front of the Cavs bench. His free throw gave the Rap­tors a one-point lead with 6:38 to play.

Irv­ing re­sponded with 11 straight points to put the Cavs up by eight with four min­utes to play. James drained a three over Tucker with 2:54 to play that capped a 14-2 Cavs run. The Rap­tors re­sponded, and a three in front of Cleve­land’s bench cut the deficit to five points with 25 sec­onds left, but a pair of Korver free throws sealed the Rap­tors’ fate.

The ACC crowd cheered as the team walked off the floor.

The Rap­tors shot 47 per cent on the night, and, af­ter con­nect­ing on just two three-point­ers in Game 3, went 10-of-29 from long range. The Cavs were 16-of-41 from the three-point line. The Rap­tors also coughed up 17 points on 13 turnovers.

DeRozan, who was com­ing off a ca­reer play­off high 37 points, went down in a heap in the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter tak­ing a knee to the groin from Iman Shumpert. Lowry, in a black suit jacket, walked gin­gerly across the court to help up his in­jured team­mate. Shumpert re­ceived a tech­ni­cal, and the ACC crowd groaned in uni­son when the re­play was shown on the Jum­botron.

Now the Rap­tors head into an un­cer­tain off-sea­son, with ques­tions about the fu­ture of coach Dwane Casey and Lowry, who plans to opt out of the fi­nal year of his con­tract and be­come a free agent.

Ibaka’s three-pointer with 4:05 left in the first quar­ter — Toronto’s third three of the game — had the Rap­tors up by 11, but James re­sponded with a three to spark a 13-2 Cavs run, and the first quar­ter ended all tied up at 28-28.

Korver came on in the sec­ond, and in­stantly spelled trou­ble for Toronto. His fourth three of the quar­ter gave the Cavs a 14-point lead just under a minute be­fore half­time, and Cleve­land had a 61-49 ad­van­tage at the break.

A three by James gave the Cavs a 16-point lead at 10:05 of the third, but threes by Joseph, Ibaka, and Pow­ell sparked a Rap­tors rally that saw them twice pull within five points late in the third.

The Cavs won the first three games 116-105, 125-103, and 115-94.


Toronto Rap­tors guard DeMar DeRozan lies on the floor af­ter com­mit­ting a foul against the Cleve­land Cava­liers dur­ing NBA play­off ac­tion in Toronto on Sun­day.

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