Another big first half deficit.
Another valiant Raptors comeback.
Only this one fell short.
The Cleveland Cavaliers used a 59 point first half to outlast the hard-charging Toronto Raptors tonight in a 102 to 100 win. The loss drops the Raptors out of third place in the East and gives them only a .500 record over their last 10 games.
We'll start with the good as there was some here. Kyle Lowry, despite being bothered all night by stomach issues of some variety, showed again why he should have been an NBA All-Star, willing his club back into this one and finishing with 22 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds. Lowry didn't get the birthday win, but he took over the game midway through the third and his teammates followed suit, taking a 21 point deficit with eight minutes left in the quarter, to an eventual Raptors lead midway through the fourth.
As well, the Raptors as a team hit 44 per cent of their long-range attempts on the night (14 for 32), something that kept them in the game early on.
But...that was about it.
Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Greivis Vasquez and Amir Johnson all scored in double figures as well but the former three hit only 18 of their 56 shots.
To compound the offensive woes, the club hit only 16 of 26 free throw attempts, an uncharacteristically bad showing for this team and especially infuriating in such a close loss.
And on the defensive end...forget about it.
We mentioned the 59 first half points given up to a Cavs' club that 24th in offensive efficiency right?
How about the Dinos letting Cleveland hit nearly 60 per cent of their shots in that half, and for the game, shoot 51 per cent from the field?
It wasn't good, and unfortunately it's been a common theme of late, both in terms of the lax D, and the club's rough first halves and late game comeback attempts. It's something that might work against teams like the Cavs and Hawks on most nights, but come playoff time if Toronto expects to win a single game, let alone a playoff series...
I had previewed the liveblog tonight mentioning that this whole week felt like a "Trap Week" in the sense that the Raptors' opponents looked easy to beat on paper, but the reality might be quite different, and tonight proved that theory out. Now it doesn't get any easier as the club turns around and heads to Boston to take on the Celtics tomorrow night in a back-to-back roadie. Even the games later in the week seem a bit more daunting as the Raps face Boston again, and an Orlando team that just smacked around the Portland Trailblazers.
Bottom line. This team needs to get it together quick if it wants to prevent any further falls in terms of the conference standings.