EditorsNote: rewords second graf
LeBron James recorded 43 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers made it two straight victories in Toronto with a 128-110 triumph over the Raptors on Thursday night in the Eastern Conference semifinals at Air Canada Centre.
Kevin Love contributed 31 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland, which leads the best-of-seven series 2-0. JR Smith scored 15 points, Jeff Green added 14 and George Hill had 13 for the fourth-seeded Cavaliers, who outscored Toronto by 20 points in the second half.
DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and Kyle Lowry added 21 points and eight assists to pace the top-seeded Raptors. Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Fred VanVleet tallied 14 points off the bench for Toronto.
Game 3 is Saturday in Cleveland.
James connected on 19 of 28 field-goal attempts as the Cavaliers moved halfway toward eliminating Toronto in the postseason for the third straight season. Cleveland has won eight consecutive playoff games against the Raptors, but James made it clear the team will be keeping its foot on the gas pedal.
“We still got a long way to go, man. This is only our ninth game in the postseason together,” James said in a postgame interview with ESPN while referring to the roster that was revamped prior to the trade deadline. “We just want to continue to try and improve each and every game. That’s what we’ve done, through nine games we’ve improved.”
Cleveland shot 59.5 percent from the field and set a franchise postseason record by committing just three turnovers. The Raptors shot 54.3 percent and lost the ball 11 times.
“We came out with a sense of urgency,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “When you turn the ball over three times, now you can get back and get your defense set. And if we get five guys scoring in double figures, things are going to look better.”
James scored 27 points on 13-of-19 shooting in the second half while taking over the contest.
Cleveland trailed by two at halftime, but James tallied 15 points during a 37-point third quarter as the Cavaliers built a 98-87 advantage. Cleveland was 16 of 22 from the field in the quarter.
The Cavaliers scored the first eight points of the quarter to take a 69-63 lead. A short time later, Hill capped a 7-0 surge with a basket to make it 79-68 with 7:50 left in the period.
Consecutive baskets by James followed by Love’s inside hoop increased Cleveland’s advantage to 89-75 with 4:17 remaining. The lead was 15 after Hill’s steal and layup with 1:01 left before the Raptors scored the final four points of the period to trail by 11.
Green opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer and James added two baskets as the Cavaliers made it 105-87 with 9:51 remaining.
Two free throws by Love pushed the lead to 20 for the first time — at 118-98 — with 4:58 left. Smith followed with a 3-pointer 35 seconds later to increase the margin to 23.
“When Kevin’s shooting the ball and playing fast, this is how we can play,” Lue said of Love, who had not reached 20 points in a game this offseason until the Game 2 outburst.
Toronto shot 59.5 percent from the field in the first half. The Raptors led by as many as nine but were only up 63-61 at the break.
—Field Level Media