N.B.A. Playoffs: LeBron James and Cavaliers Tighten Grip on Raptors

N.B.A. Playoffs: LeBron James and Cavaliers Tighten Grip on Raptors


“He got it going and he was feeling it,” Coach Tyronn Lue said.

James, meanwhile, gave credit to Love, who shot 11 for 21 and missed matching his career playoff high by one point.

“It was great to see that performance out of him,” James said. “He’s our All-Star power forward. That’s a huge game for him.”

J.R. Smith scored 15 points, Jeff Green had 14 and George Hill 13 as the Cavaliers posted their eighth consecutive postseason victory over the Raptors and halted Toronto’s four-game winning streak in Game 2s. The Raptors entered 6-1 all-time when playing Game 2 at home.

“Love got going on us and that was a difficult matchup for us,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “We have some matchup issues all over the court.”

DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and Kyle Lowry had 21 for the Raptors. Toronto won a team-record 59 games and finished as the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference this season, but was easily shoved one step closer to a third straight postseason exit at the hands of James and the Cavaliers.

Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Fred VanVleet scored 14 points, but the Raptors lost back-to-back home games for the first time all season.

The series shifts to Ohio for Game 3 on Saturday night. Toronto has gone 0-5 at Cleveland over the past two postseasons, losing by an average margin of 24.2 points per game.

“Sometimes when you’re put in tough situations, that’s what brings the best out of you,” DeRozan said. “That’s what point we’re at now.”

Unfortunately for the Raptors, James insisted the Cavaliers aren’t satisfied with their 2-0 lead.

“We will not let our guards down,” James promised.

The Cavaliers, who tied a postseason low with three turnovers, are 21-3 at home against Eastern Conference opponents in the playoffs over the past four years.

The Raptors, who let a 10-point lead slip away in a 113-112 overtime loss in Game 1, were up 54-45 midway through the second quarter but saw their lead dwindle to 63-61 at halftime.

Cleveland took control as Smith scored six points in an 18-5 spurt to begin the third quarter. The Cavs outscored the Raptors 37-24 in the third to take an 11-point edge into the fourth, and Toronto didn’t challenge again.

“That’s kind of what won the game for us,” Lue said of Cleveland’s big third quarter.

James was on target in Cleveland’s game-changing third quarter, connecting on seven of 10 attempts and scoring 15 points. Love added nine as the Cavs took a 98-87 lead to the fourth.



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