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Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Raptors shoot lights out, lock up Cavs, win second straight 118-107

A rare shooting spectacle from the Raptors, plus Anunoby and Flynn locking up Mitchell and Garland. What a tremendous gift to the Raptors fans.

I guess the saying “Health is wealth” is true.

The Toronto Raptors delivered their best all-around game to date tonight, or at least since their rotation started dropping like flies due to injuries. The Raptors’ offense AND defense were humming through three-and-a-half quarters, building a 26-point lead, and despite the Cleveland Cavaliers’ rally to make it a game, the Raptors did enough to hold on to the lead, defeating the Cavs for the third straight time this season, 118-107.

O.G. Anunoby had his best game since returning from injury, putting up 26 points and nine rebounds while dropping six trifectas. He did all that while locking up Donovan Mitchell for most of the game, limiting Spida to 12 points on 16 shots while seeing Anunoby’s ghost even when he wasn’t around.

The Cavs made it difficult for Siakam for most of the game, but this superstar still put up the “usual,” dropping 26 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds. Scottie Barnes had an aggressive start, hanging 25 points and ten rebounds, with 15 coming in the first half. Fred VanVleet took his turn in the third period, making it rain from the perimeter. VanVleet dropped five trifectas en route to 18 points for the night.

The Raptors are starting to get healthy, with the Raptors getting Gary Trent Jr. back after missing the past four games. Nurse kept Juancho Hernangomez in the starting lineup, who’s doing an excellent job as the fifth Beatle, solidifying the starting unit’s defense. Perhaps the under-the-radar story of the night goes to Malachi Flynn.

With Trent Jr. back, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see Flynn earn a DNP. However, his recent play earned him another look, and he not only brought what he’s been doing offensively tonight, but he also did a great audition as a defender. The Cavs’ have a two-headed point-of-attack dragon, and Anunoby can only guard one — we saw him shut down Mitchell tonight. The shifty point guards have long been the Raptors’ Achilles’ heel, and Darius Garland’s been a thorn on their neck.

Flynn’s did a great job staying in front and slowing down Garland tonight, making it difficult to go downhill, to a point where Garland looked discouraged to attack him. He also prevented a Cavs fastbreak attempt and fought much better in defensive positioning and rebounding all night. It looks like Flynn’s figured out what he needs to do to get out of Nurse’s dog house. Scratch that, he’s now able to manifest what he needs to do when he’s on the floor.

Nick Nurse maintained a tight 8-man rotation, and Chris Boucher’s shaky performance these past few games earned him a trip to Nurse’s doghouse. This game is Boucher’s first DNP in over a year.

The Raptors shot 51.4% from behind the arc, shooting a rare 19 three-pointers for the night. Perhaps the most impressive part about their shooting tonight is that the shots are getting to the right shooters and in rhythm.

Darius Garland led the Cavs with 17 points and eight assists but was forced to turn the ball over eight times. Kevin Love and Cedi Osman chipped in 13 points apiece, with most of their points coming in the second half as the Cavs tried to get back in the game.

The Cavs game-planned to make it difficult for Siakam to put up a nickel again, and the unselfish superstar went into playmaking mode. Barnes’ aggressiveness early was a sight for sore eyes, and he linked up with Anunoby carrying the team early, combining for 18 of the team’s first 24 points. Trent Jr. came off the bench and made an immediate impact, procuring a pick-six and following it up with a trifecta. A 13-4 run gave the Raptors the early separation, punctuated by Siakam’s rainbow three from The Land at the buzzer, giving the Raptors a 39-31 lead after the first frame.

The second quarter had a different story line. The Cavs started with better defensive pressure, forcing the Raptors into several turnovers early. Fortunately for the Raptors, Siakam looked all sorts of the superstar that he is with his perimeter shooting and playmaking. But the bigger part of the quarter belonged to Malachi Flynn. His excellent play on both ends of the floor allowed the Raptors to keep the Cavs at bay. His defensive stops were just as loud as his three-pointers and assists. Superstars assert themselves when the team needs one, and Siakam took over the Raptors’ offense late, keying a 7-0 run to give the Raptors a 69-53 lead at the half.

The Cavs came out of the locker room, not knowing what was waiting for them to start the second half. Vanvleet dropped three straight trifectas, and Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff wasn’t happy with his starters’ effort, pulling them out less than three minutes into the half as the Raptors built a 26-point lead.

The Cavs’ bench responded better and slowly chipped into the lead, cutting it to 88-72, prompting coach Nick Nurse to call a timeout. A Love 3 cut it to 13, but the Raptors responded. Barnes and Siakam went on a quick 6-0 run to regain their composure, and a Vanvleet four-point play helped the Raptors get back to a 20-point lead heading into the final frame.

The Raptors opened up as flat as pop with no spirit to start the fourth quarter, and the Cavs took advantage as they worked their way into a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 98-85. However, Flynn’s three-pointer and Anunoby’s fastbreak layup gave the Raptors some breathing room. The Cavs kept going at the Raptors, with Allen’s hook shot cutting the lead to 12 halfway into the quarter.

The Raptors and Cavs traded haymakers, and Mitchell’s trifecta over Anunoby cut the lead to ten, but Siakam found Anunoby for his sixth three-pointer on the other end. The Cavs’ defense limited the Raptors to a clunky half-court offense, and Mitchell’s floater cut the lead to nine. Siakam seemingly air-balled or threw might have thrown a lob to Barnes, who promptly dunked the ball, and Siakam’s middy after ISO-ing Jarrett Allen gave the Raptors a 13-point lead and iced the game with less than two minutes left.

Up Next: The Raptors head home and reconvene after Boxing Day, facing an old friend in Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers on December 27th.

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