After getting a win without Kyrie Irving in Chicago the night before, the Cleveland Cavaliers wanted to show the home fans it was not a fluke. The Toronto Raptors were the opponent in town, and they had been hot since acquiring Rudy Gay.
After a rough start – beginning the game 1-for-15 from the field – the Cavaliers were able to battle back. After being down 21-7, Cleveland outscored the Raptors 50-27 the rest of the half to take the lead into the break. The Cavaliers were able to take advantage of a weak second unit to go on their run and really take control of the game on the way to a 103-92 victory.
For the second straight night, Cleveland used a balanced night to offset the loss of their star. Rookie Dion Waiters continued to be the high scorer for the Cavaliers without his back-court mate, as he finished the night with 23 points and six assists. Shaun Livingston, who has been given the start in Irving's place, had another productive night with 15 points, six assists, and five rebounds.
Second-year big man Tristan Thompson had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Wayne Ellington continues to gives Cleveland solid bench play, finishing with 13 points and three rebounds. The Cavaliers had two other bench players with nice nights. Marreese Speights finished with 11 points and nine rebounds and C.J. Miles had 10 for Cleveland.
Just like the night before against the Bulls, the Raptors had two players go off, but were not able to get enough from the rest of their players to get the win.
Demar DeRozan had a game-high 34 points to go along with five rebounds. Gay, who has been stellar for Toronto since coming over from the Memphis Grizzlies, finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Only Kyle Lowry, 11, and Amir Johnson, 10, scored in double figures for the Raptors. Toronto ended the game with just eight bench points, while the Cavaliers had 39.
Cleveland had not beaten Toronto since April 2010, so – for the second night in a row – they beat a team that had their number for the last few years.
This may becoming a theme for the Cavaliers, who seem to be turning a corner somewhat over the last few games. Since the All-Star break, Cleveland is 4-1, only losing a four-point game to the Miami Heat. In the month of February the Cavaliers finished with a 7-5 record, which is only the second time this team has had a winning month since LeBron James left.
With a record of 22-38 and sitting nine games back of the final playoff spot, no one is expecting this team to all of a sudden make a push. It is promising to see Cleveland put together some wins, especially without Irving, to help instill belief in the players moving forward. This could be a turning point in a franchise that is looking to get back to the elite level that left town a few years ago.
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