Hello seven games over .500. The Toronto Raptors used a 12 to 4 run over the final three minutes of tonight's match-up versus the Cleveland Cavaliers, to come away with a 99 to 93 win. DeMar DeRozan led the Raps with 33 points and the win indeed has Toronto sitting pretty in the East with a 32 and 25 record.
This one on paper looked like an easy win as the Raptors had just recently beaten the Cavs handily, and Cleveland tonight was missing key players such as Dion Waiters, CJ Miles and Anderson Varejao.
And early on, indeed, this looked to be a runaway W for Toronto, who jumped out to a 23 to 12 first quarter lead.
But the Cavs finished the first Q strong, and tied the Raptors' second-quarter scoring output (both teams put up 24) and trailed only 47 to 41 at the half.
Cleveland built on this solid first half to come out guns blazing in the third quarter, outscoring Toronto 28 to 21, thereby taking the lead. Kyrie Irving got into the paint at will and caused havoc for the Raps' defence, which looked non-existent at times.
Turnovers were a problem as well with Toronto notching their 14th as Cleveland looked like they might even begin to pull away.
But DeMar DeRozan wasn't having it. On a night when Kyle Lowry was as ice cold as the current Toronto weather, DeRozan made timely basket after basket keeping Toronto in it, and facilitated several others as guys like Greivis Vasquez and Amir Johnson chipped in here and there.
And DD got some big help late from Terrence Ross who finished with 19 points, including five three-pointers. Ross was also big at the other end guarding Kyrie Irving down the stretch, helping keep the Cavs' star at bay as he hit only two of his seven shots in the final quarter.
Thanks DeRozan and Ross' efforts Toronto drew even at 87 with about three minutes left in the match, then went ahead for good a few seconds later.
And that was it.
Toronto's defence locked in, the Cavs struggled to execute, and hey, a few close calls even went Toronto's way as the club grabbed its 16th road win of the season.
Game MVP goes to DeRozan for his 33 points, 6 assist, 4 rebound outing, and honourable mentions go to Ross and Lowry for timely buckets and plays, especially late.
So back to TO goes the Raps as they look to continue to lock in the third seed in the East, the next step in the process being another rematch, this time versus the Washington Wizards on Thursday night.