Despite the Raptors' best efforts, this game became all about Kyrie Irving in the second half - John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
In a shot eerily reminiscent of last year's Jeremy Lin game-winner at the ACC, Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving sunk a deep three with less than a second left on the clock to beat the Raptors on Saturday night.
As the minutes began ticking down in the fourth quarter and the Raptor lead diminished, you just had the feeling there was only one way the game could end.
Despite being up by double-digits early on in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's 99-98 loss, the Raptors again crumbled down the stretch.
With 12 seconds on the clock, the recently appointed All-Star Kyrie Irving took the ball for the Cavs, dribbled up the floor and drilled a three-pointer to give the Cavaliers a one-point lead -- and the eventual victory -- with .7 seconds on the clock.
For Raptors fans, the shot was painfully similar to the game-winner Jeremy Lin hit last season in Toronto.
"[Anderson] was at the three-point line. I [pauses and laughs] was a little bit further back," Irving said
The second-year point guard put his team on his back in the second half, scoring 19 of his 32 points on 7 of 12 shooting. With the win, the Cavaliers improve to six and two on the season when Irving scores thirty or more points.
Irving's last second shot made a lot of people happy, including Brampton, Ontario's Tristan Thompson.
Thompson had said previously that the game was just like any other despite handing out 40 tickets for family and friends. But, Thompson did have something to say about any potential added significance to the win.
"Mom's not going to spank me tonight," Thompson said while laughing.
Thompson's mom should be happy with the performance he put in. Thompson scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds in what was another solid outing for the power forward whose body of work this season has been much improved over his rookie campaign.
The Raptors have had three straight games come down to the wire at the end of regulation. In each of those games, the Raptors lead by at least nine points. Toronto now falls to 1-17 in games where they trail by five points or less in the last three minutes of play.
Lost in the Raptor collapse was the strong play on the interior yet again by the combination of Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. The duo combined for 34 points and 21 rebounds, helping create multiple second-chance opportunities for Toronto, which in turn lead to their control of the game through three quarters. It was also the third consecutive game in which both Davis and Johnson had scored in double-figures.
The Amir Johnson, Ed Davis tandem has been extremely effective for the Raptors this season and with the return of Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani looming, it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, will be made to the starting lineup.
The biggest advantage Cleveland had on this night was their ability to rely on one player -- Irving -- to get them good looks at the hoop and baskets when they needed them most. The Raptors, again, were forced to rely on a number of different players to do this, and lacked the singular closer to put the game away.
This is something that Adam has already talked about on the site in quite detail, but it is continues to the haunt this club night in and night out.
Games like these really do show you how important having superstar talent is in the NBA. Having a player like Kyrie Irving at such a young age means the Cavaliers have a player they can build around for years to come. With Irving in place, it would be hard to imagine that club not developing into one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference down the road.
The Raptors, on the other hand, have some good young talent, but their future remains largely uncertain as they continue to search for that illusive go-to superstar.