Raptors Roll Past Cavs

Anderson Varejao led everyone with 13 boards on Wednesday.
Ron Turenne
NBAE.Getty Images
Following Wednesday’s loss to the Raptors, the sentiment in Cleveland’s locker room was universal: Talking about playing in a back-to-back is one thing. Actually playing in it is another.

The Cavaliers played on consecutive nights for the first time in this condensed season, and it showed, as the Raptors rolled over a weary-looking Wine and Gold squad, 92-77, on Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre.

After opening an early lead, the Cavaliers fell behind after one quarter, 21-18, and never recovered. The Raptors eventually opened their lead to as many as 20 points and went on to hand Cleveland two of its first three losses.

Antawn Jamison scored 17 of his team-leading 19 points in the first half – one of just three Cavaliers to notch double-figures in Wednesday’s rematch. Kyrie Irving followed up with a dozen points, but shot just 3-for-13 from the floor.

In two games against Toronto, the top overall pick has now gone 5-for-25 from the field.

"There’s no way somebody can put into words what a back-to-back is going to feel like on your body," said Irving. "This is my first experience and I’m glad I got it out of the way early. Because we have a few coming up in the future and it was a learning experience. So, (I'll) just take things that didn’t work and try different things until I get it right."

The only other Cavalier to tally double-figures was Omri Casspi, with 10 points. Anderson Varejao led all rebounders with 13.

Despite their sluggish start, Cleveland was in the game right through the third quarter. But if a pair of desperation threes by DeMar DeRozan wobbled them in the first half, it was Leandro Barbosa’s 34-foot bomb early in the fourth that served as TKO.

Barbosa’s three put Toronto up 13 with just over nine minutes to play and the Cavaliers didn’t mount much of a comeback from there. With 2:23 remaining, Coach Scott emptied his bench and essentially began looking toward Minnesota.

“I give Toronto a lot of credit,” lamented Scott. “They played great basketball on both ends of the floor, we couldn’t throw it in the ocean and when we made a little bit of a run, they made a miracle three to kind of break our backs. But we’ll just have to pick ourselves up and get ready for the next one.”

The Cavaliers roadie continues in the Land of 10,000 Lakes on Friday night with a matchup against Kevin Love, Derrick Williams and the Timberwolves.

  • Toronto native Tristan Thompson made his first return north of the border as a Cavalier. The 20-year-old forward had to pick up 26 tickets for friends and family and entered the game to a big ovation at Air Canada Centre. He was asked pregame if he remembers his first Raptors game.

    “The first game was an open practice in the inaugural season,” he recalled. “We were still at the Sky Dome. I remember the Sprite Zone, $10 tickets and going with my dad. It was really exciting.”

  • This year’s No. 1 overall pick can’t seem to get respect he deserves outside of Cleveland. In the Cavs lone preseason game in Detroit, their game notes had him listed as “Kyle Irving.” In the sports page of Wednesday’s Toronto Sun, they had him listed as “Kryie Evans.”

  • On Wednesday afternoon, the Cavaliers assigned sophomore swingman Christian Eyenga to the Canton Charge. The former first-rounder appeared in just one game with the Cavaliers – during garbage time in Tuesday’s win over Charlotte – and makes his second trip in as many seasons to Cleveland’s D-League affiliate.

    “I still think he needs to just continue to work,” said Coach Scott. “He has to learn to be a professional in this league and work hard every single day. And that’s the reason Alonzo (Gee) has taken such a giant leap. He just comes every night and brings it. And Christian needs to get to that point. He knows that every day in practice and you have to bring it, and when you get an opportunity in the game, he has to do the same thing.”

  • Cleveland came into Wednesday night’s game leading the league in fast break points allowed at 7.0 ppg. They lowered their average in the loss – holding Toronto to just four points on the break.

  • The NBA released the All-Star Ballot on Wednesday. Kyrie Irving joins Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio as the only two rookies on the entire ballot. (No sign of Kyrie Evans on the ballot.)

  • Irving has swatted a pair of shots in each of Cleveland’s last two games, including a fantastic chase-down block on Tuesday night against Charlotte. Before Wednesday’s game in Toronto, he was asked about his teammates reaction to the play.

    “They said they didn’t know I was that athletic,” the rookie point joked. “I told them I didn’t know I was that athletic either.”

  • Samardo Samuels did not join the team on their trip to Toronto after losing his passport and having complications with his visa. The native Jamaican will rejoin the club when they travel to Minnesota.

    “I’m gonna chalk it up to just youth and inexperience,” reasoned Byron Scott. “Hopefully he learned his lesson and hopefully he’ll take care of it and it’ll never happen again.

  • Ryan Hollins, coming off the bench with the absence of Samuels, swatted three Raptors offerings at the Air Canada Centre.

  • The Cavs came into Wednesday’s game tied with Phoenix as the top bench scoring team in the league – averaging 46.8 points per contest. They could’ve used more production on the second night of a back-to-back in Toronto, Cleveland’s reserves tallied just 25 points in the loss.