BAS­KET­BALL

RAP­TORS TAKE ON LEBRON, CAVS:

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

TORONTO — 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 115-94. 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 three­p­oint at­tempts be­fore Pow­ell fi­nally ended the long-range 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 three-point range. Toronto couldn’t buy a three-point bas­ket, go­ing 2 of 18 on the night.

FRANK GUNN, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Rap­tors guard Nor­man Pow­ell dunks as Cava­liers guard Iman Shumpert (4) and for­ward LeBron James look on dur­ing the first half in Toronto on Fri­day. LORI EWING

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