After three quarters in Cleveland tonight, the Raptors were up 88-81. They had won their previous 39 regular season games when leading after three. But in the fourth quarter, the team scored just 13 points as the Cavs came back, and held on for the victory thanks to a strong individual defensive effort from Tristan Thompson to deny Kyle Lowry on a late game possession.
Some other thoughts from the game:
- The Cavs have shown significant improvement in their defensive numbers during their seven game (now eight) win streak. But in the first half, the Raptors were getting looks at the basket at will. I don't have the official stat on this, but I counted at least six dunks. This allowed the Raptors to shoot over 60 percent from the field in the first half
- Jonas Valanciunas was everywhere, especially in the first half. He finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds. That's two straight impressive performances from him. If Valanciunas can do this more consistently, I'm ready to alter my expectations for this team a little bit
- There was a late game possession when it seemed like Amir Johnson got tied up in the lane for a jump ball. But the refs awarded the ball to the Raptors, which was great, because I'm pretty sure Amir -- playing through a bunch of minor injuries -- would not have been able to jump given his condition.
- LeBron: 35 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steal
- The Raptors shot zero free throws in the fourth quarter, feel free to call it the DeRozan effect
- Patrick Patterson hit both of his three-point attempts tonight. He's shooting around 43% from downtown since joining the Raptors last season.
- Landry Fields started! LeBron went at him on several plays in the first quarter, but Fields held his own. Dwane Casey has been preaching defense of late, and having Fields in the starting lineup gives the bench a bit more balance, where he can use James Johnson (who closed the game) and have Greivis Vasquez for his offense