No one would ever accuse the Raptors of doing things the boring way. Lose by 31 in Game 1, yawn. Lose by 19 in Game 2, whatever. We should have known in that moment, as unlikely as it seemed at the time, that the Raptors would make things exciting. For better or worse, when up or when down, they always do. Tonight they were in control of Game 4 for the majority of its 48 minutes. Still, it was close, it was exciting -- and the Raptors won 105-99. The series is now tied 2-2.
We also should have believed Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan when they said they'd find their way. The two leaders of the Raptors have been in a seesaw battle for most of the playoffs; one up, then the other, back and forth, a pair in frustration. Tonight, even more so than in Game 3, they both went off, in thorough control of their skills. Lowry finished with a spectacular 35 points on 14-for-20 shooting (including 4-for-7 from 3) to go with five rebounds and five assists. DeRozan put in another "quiet" 32 points on 14-for-23 shooting, with three rebounds and three assists. In any troubling moment, these two were there to make things happen. It was beautiful to watch.
Where else did excitement come from, let me count the ways. Toronto weathered a live wire stretch of 14 totally unproductive Luis Scola minutes. James Johnson played like he was in a throw away game in January. Cory Joseph wrestled with Kyrie Irving and chipped in eight points of his own. DeMarre Carroll (with 11 points) took a bunch of open threes -- he missed most of them (he was 1-for-7 from deep) but hoo boy it was thrilling when he took them. Terrence Ross gave the ball away on one fastbreak, but then made an amazing defensive play and lead pass to kickstart another. Bismack Biyombo fought with lions, grabbed 14 rebounds, including three offensive, and just for fun, added some blocks that had everyone in the country standing up to salute. The ACC got to be very, very loud.
No, no, no! https://t.co/JVPMKzAsGt— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 24, 2016
The Cavaliers had a part to play in all this, I should add. Despite scoring a meagre 41 points in the first half, Cleveland began inching back into it in the third, before making a serious run in the fourth. The Cavs scored on 14 straight possessions in that final frame to take a lead and put a scare into Toronto. Cleveland was trapping on pick and rolls up top, and trying to force the ball handler, usually Lowry, to make a play. It seemed like the wheels were on their way to coming off. But the Raptors answered back. DeRozan made some impossible shots, Patterson and Biyombo grabbed some huge boards, and Lowry directed the symphony as he has all year.
You want more excitement? DeRozan got horse-collared on a break by J.R. Smith, Kevin Love apparently hurt himself by rolling his ankle on the ref, Lowry stole the ball late from LeBron and drew the foul as James charged into his behind, Channing Frye looked like he'd never miss, the Raptors almost rolled out a returning Jonas Valanciunas, Drake was up and cheering like a maniac, Chuck Swirsky called for the salami and cheese in the first half, and the Raptors proved a host of doubters wrong.
We should have believed Lowry and DeRozan when they said they'd make plays. We should have believed the Raptors would come back in this series. We should have believed it would not be a sweep, that it would be closer than we thought, that it could only ever be one thing.
Exciting. 2-2. No matter what happens in Cleveland on Wednesday: we'll see you back here in Toronto on Friday.