Cavs meet Raptors in Toronto
TORONTO -- The Cleveland and Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors do not have much in common when it comes to results this season, but both have scored improbable last-minute wins over the Indiana Pacers this week.
The Pacers were riding a seven-game winning streak when they hosted the injury-plagued Cavaliers Tuesday night. Cleveland won 92-91 on a tip-in at the final buzzer.
Indiana visited Toronto Wednesday to face a Raptors team that also was depleted by injuries, led by 17 points during the third quarter, then scored only 11 points in the fourth quarter to lose 99-96 when Fred VanVleet made a 3-pointer with 26.4 seconds to play and Danny Green added two free throws.
The Raptors were without point guard Kyle Lowry (thigh) and center Serge Ibaka (knee) against the Pacers and center Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) remains out.
Lowry is not expected to play Friday and Ibaka is questionable.
The Cavaliers (8-24) could not repeat their success in Indiana when they visited the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday, losing 110-99 with Cleveland's coach Larry Drew ejected during the fourth quarter to picking up two technical fouls.
The Cavaliers were playing without three of their top five leading scorers -- Kevin Love, Jordan Clarkson and Tristan Thompson on Tuesday -- yet they were able to come back in the fourth quarter to pull off the victory.
"(Indiana) was hot," said Cavaliers center Larry Nance Jr. after he scored 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds against the Pacers. "They are one of the best teams in the East and they are going to be a big problem in the playoffs. So, getting a win like this, with the type of season and stuff we are going through, is really encouraging. I think it's big, showing signs of growth with the guys we had down and the way we fought."
Clarkson returned from a sore back Wednesday to score 20 points off the bench but guard Matthew Dellavedova, who scored 10 points against Indiana, had his sore left knee rested on Wednesday.
The Cavaliers had a career-best 15 points Wednesday on 6-for-8 shooting (3-for-4 from 3-point range) off the bench from rookie Jaron Blossomgame, who is on a two-contract and has bounced between the G League team at Canton and Cleveland.
"He continues to blossom," Drew said. "He's been good for us. He plays with a lot of energy. He plays hard. He's a live body. You don't have to run plays for him, he just plays within himself. He's a company guy. I know each and every night that I'm going to get that same effort from him. He's starting to really lock in to what we're doing, and I feel really good putting him out there."
The Raptors (24-9) did have Norman Powell back Wednesday for the first time since Nov. 5 when he suffered a shoulder injury. He scored two points in 14:47 of playing time.
The Raptors were returning from a Western swing on which they were 2-2 starting with wind over the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors and ending with losses to the Portland Trailblazers and the Denver Nuggets.
That might have been the reason that the Raptors did not find their groove until the fourth quarter against Indiana.
"I think we just ended up doing what we were saying probably after that first quarter, but it's always tough to play at home when you're coming off those long road trips like that," said Kawhi Leonard, who had 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. "You know, two days off in between, coming back home, it's like playing the away team, but we did a good job with just sticking in there and just keeping our heads up.
"These last two weeks it's kind of challenging with guys going down. ... We had a lot of different lineups the last six games, four games. But you just have to stick with it."
Updated December 20, 2018