On a night when Toronto had video montages for, deep breath, Nelson Mandela, Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo, and Charles Barkley--to say nothing Lebron James' mere presence--it was local kid Tristan Thompson who crushed the Raptors. Behind his fearsome motor, the Cavaliers beat the Raptors 105-91 tonight.Johnson,
With a final line of 21 points (on 8-of-13 shooting) and 14 rebounds (nine offensive), Thompson would not be denied by any of the Raptors' interior players. He was second in scoring for the Cavaliers (behind, guess who, Lebron's 24 point, 13 assist, 7 rebound performance) and seemed to come up huge in every scrum for a loose ball.
"We got some stops and seems like we were doing a good job of keeping [Thompson] off there," said coach Dwane Casey. "And all at once he'd come up with the ball." It was a concerning trend to be sure. The Cavaliers ultimately out-rebounded the Raptors 48-40.
The Raptors, for their part, did try to make a game of it. As has become the norm, Kyle Lowry muscled his way to a 22 point, nine assist performance. He shot 7-for-18 and, despite some lapses in judgment, did keep the Raptors close until the last half of the fourth quarter. Eventually, the defensive breakdowns got to be too much and the lead never quite shrunk back below six.
Sadly, after last Friday's Dallas game, this marks the second monster Amir Johnson game to be added to the loss column. Amir was everywhere tonight with 27 points (on 11-of-15 shooting) and seven rebounds (five offensive). He even chipped in four assists. His pick-and-roll game with Lowry was unstoppable. It was the play the Raps should have been looking for far more often against a Cavs team not known for its defensive prowess.
As for the rest of the Raptors? I'll let Casey explain: "Tonight we couldn't hit the side of a barn with a bass fiddle."
Cute, but also the truth: Jonas Valanciunas, 3-of-7; Terrence Ross, 2-of-9; Greivis Vasquez, 2-of-11; Patrick Patterson, 2-of-8; even Lou Williams, the mighty LOUUUU, was 2-of-7. The Raps shot 40.7 precent on the game, but outside of Lowry, Amir and some healthy contributions from James Johnson (11 points, 5-of-10 shooting), Casey's comment felt exceedingly correct.
So, OK, the offense was struggling. But that doesn't let the Raptors off the hook completely. For a team that can normally count on its offense, the defense continues to be a concern. "The number one topic is going to be defense," Casey said. "It's gotta be."
The Raptors remain on top of the Eastern Conference at 15-5. But teams like the Cavaliers, winners now of six straight, are starting to get it together.
What did you guys think of the game?