King James, Cavaliers throw first punch
CLEVELAND — LeBron James, and the Cavaliers’ three-point shooting spelled another Game 1 loss for the Toronto Raptors.
James scored 35 points to lift Cleveland to a 116-105 victory over Toronto in the opening game of their National Basketball Association Eastern Conference semifinal series on Monday.
Kyle Lowry had 20 points and 11 assists, while DeMar DeRozan finished with 19 points. P.J. Tucker had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Serge Ibaka chipped in 15 points, and Norman Powell finished with 12 points.
But the Raptors had no answer for the Cavs’ three-point shooting — the No. 2 team in the league in the regular season went 14 of 34 from beyond the arc.
The loss dropped the Raptors to 1-12 in playoff series openers, their lone victory coming in the second round against Philadelphia in 2001.
In a game of wild runs, the Raptors would trail by as little as two points last in the second quarter, and by as many as 25 late in the third. The Cavaliers led 96-74 to start the fourth quarter.
But the Raptors would come no closer than 16 points over the final 12 minutes, and when Channing Frye drove to the hoop for a dunk with two minutes to play, it put the Cavs up by 22 points, and victorious Cleveland fans began to bolt for the exits. Both coaches then emptied their benches. The Raptors shot 44 per cent on the night, and were 10 of 26 from three-point range. They coughed up 18 points on turnovers compared to just eight for the Cavs. Cleveland also went to the free throw line nine more times than Toronto did.
Since 2015, the Cavaliers have gone 29-4 in the post-season against Eastern Conference opponents, including 16-1 at home.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Cleveland then the series shifts to Toronto for Game 3 on Friday and Game 4 on Sunday.
James was 13 of 23 from the field, and grabbed 10 rebounds, and had the crowd chuckling when he missed a shot then jokingly grabbed a beer from the courtside waitress.
James is the “hub of everything,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey had said pre-game. “He’s a quarterback, he’s a point guard, he’s a power forward, he’s a small forward, he’s a shooting guard, he’s everything.
“So the way you kind of manoeuvre and match around him is so important.”
Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors’ Patrick Patterson in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series.