Toronto Raptors win 126-110 against Cleveland Cavaliers

The Christmas break can’t come soon enough for the depleted Toronto Raptors. And yet they are still finding ways to win.

Down star point guard Kyle Lowry, versatile guard-forward Danny Green and big men Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors led wire to wire Friday night in dispatching the Cleveland Cavaliers 126-110.

On Wednesday, Toronto rallied from a 17-point deficit to edge the Indiana Pacers 99-96 with Fred VanVleet scoring nine of his 11 points in the final quarter to help snap a two-game mini-losing run.

Friday, it waseason-highof Kawhi Leonard and OG Anunoby to lead the way.

Leonard matched a season high with 37 points and Anunoby tied a career high with 21 as Toronto improved their NBA-best record to 25-9. Anunoby led the way early before the muscular Leonard took over.

The Raptors play in Philadelphia on Saturday before scattering for the holidays. They return for a game Boxing Day in Miami.

Leonard had 15 points in the third quarter and seven in the fourth, repeatedly bodying his way to the basket. It was his ninth 30-point game of the season.

Anunoby had two important buckets in the fourth including a thundering dunk as Toronto scored at least 120 points for the 14th time this season — most in the NBA — while improving to 13-4 at home.

Jordan Clarkson led Cleveland (8-25) with 20 while rookie Collin Sexton added 17 before fouling out. The Cavs bench contributed 53 points.

Cleveland narrowed the lead to five in the fourth quarter, but Leonard and VanVleet, who finished with 14 points, eight assists and five rebounds, helped bring it home.

Both teams were hurting.

Green, who had been the lone Raptor to start every game this season, was the latest to go down with a left knee contusion.

Lowry has missed the Raptors’ last four games with a left thigh contusion. Ibaka was sidelined by right knee swelling for the second straight game while Valanciunas is not expected back until mid-January after dislocating his thumb against Golden State on Dec. 12.

Toronto started VanVleet, Delon Wright, Anunoby and Leonard with Pascal Siakam at centre.

Cleveland was missing Kevin Love (foot), J.R. Smith (personal), John Henson (wrist) and Canadian Tristan Thompson (foot).

A 10-0 run, thanks to eight straight points from Anunoby, left the Cavs in an early 12-2 hole. Anunoby tied a season high with his third three-pointer made midway through the first quarter.

The second-year forward had 13 of the Raptors’ first 17 points and finished the quarter with 15 on 6-of-7 shooting as Toronto led 34-28.

“It was great to see OG get off to such a hot start,” said Nurse. “It’s too bad he got in a little foul trouble. We could have let him really roll out some minutes tonight. He only gets 22. It would have been nice to push that up to the 30 mark.”

Cleveland cut the lead to one at 38-37 early in the second quarter, but Toronto built it back up and led 59-47 late in the quarter on a Leonard three-pointer. A 5-0 Cleveland run narrowed the deficit to 59-52 at the break.

Toronto was good on just 4-of-15 three-point attempts in the first half with Anunoby (3) and Leonard (1) the only successful shooters from distance.

Anunoby and Leonard combined for 32 of the Raptors’ first-half points. Norm Powell had eight on 4-of-4 shooting and finished with a season-high 11.

Toronto’s ongoing beef with the officiating continued with Wright assessed a technical in the third. VanVleet, meanwhile, drew cheers when he buried a bucket flying through the air sideways after being fouled.

The Raptors pushed the lead to 14 in the third, but the Cavs, with success from the three-point line, cut the margin to 99-93 going into the fourth

Siakam had a rough night shooting, going 2-for-11 before hitting some timely shots in the second half. He finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Toronto has now won three straight this season against Cleveland with one more matchup remaining.

Cleveland arrived having lost three of its last four and 10 of its last 14. The Cavs were coming off an 11-point loss Wednesday in Charlotte.

The game was the Raptors’ 200th straight sellout at Scotiabank Arena, dating back to November 2014.

Peace,

Burke

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