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The fact that the Cavaliers scored 61 points after intermission and still lost by 20 should explain what went wrong on Saturday night.
The Raptors hit the Wine & Gold with an offensive haymaker in the first half that they were never able to recover from – mounting a second-half rally before falling to Toronto, 135-115, on Saturday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The shorthanded Raptors, who’d lost 15 of their previous 18 outings, were the aggressors right from the opening tip – jumping all over a Cavaliers team that was feeling good after taking two straight lopsided decisions on the road.
The Raptors drilled their first 12 shots from the floor, shot 85 percent and scored 47 points in the opening period.
When the smoke settled at halftime, Toronto had set a Cavaliers’ all-time opponents record – scoring 87 points through the first two quarters to eclipse foes’ offensive marks that’ve unfortunately all been set over the last two seasons.
The Cavaliers were a different squad after intermission – holding the Raptors to just 13 points in the third quarter and outscoring them, 61-48, in the second stanza. They simply dug themselves too deep of a first-half hole to get out of.
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 29 points, going 10-for-20 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the stripe, adding five assists and a steal.
Darius Garland followed up with 19 points on 7-for-17 shooting, leading Cleveland with eight assists to go with a pair of steals.
Kevin Love went 4-of-8 from long-range and 6-of-8 from the line, finishing with 18 points. Dean Wade also went 4-of-8 from deep, finishing with 14 points, six boards, a pair of assists and a steal.
Possibly the Wine & Gold’s most active player all night on Saturday was reserve big man Isaiah Hartenstein, who came off the bench to finish with 12 points, eight boards, six assists, three steals and four blocked shots.
Taurean Prince notched double-figures in his fourth straight game off the bench – pitching in with 10 points, going 2-of-3 from beyond the arc in the loss.
For the Raptors, Gary Trent Jr. was nearly unstoppable in that first half, going 9-of-10 from the floor, including 5-of-6 from long-range for 25 points through the first two periods. Trent would eventually finish with a game-high 44 points, going 17-for-19 overall, 7-of-9 from deep.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Darius Garland busts out a great ball fake to lose his defender and score an easy lay-up early against the Raptors.
If you missed Saturday’s turning point, you were watching the Cleveland Indians during the first half of Cavs-Raptors.
After the Cavs scored the first two points of the game, the Raptors simply exploded – drilling their first 12 shots and barely slowing down from there, running out to a 38-point edge with just over two minutes remaining before half.
In the second half, the Wine & Gold used a 37-17 sprint to get to within a dozen – 106-94 – with 9:30 to play in regulation. But they would get no closer, as Toronto notched 35 points in the fourth to put the win on ice.
By the Numbers - +10.5 … average point margin that the Cavaliers have won the third quarter by over the last four games – winning each one, including a 29-13 advantage on Saturday night.
In three of those games, the Wine & Gold held their opponent to 17 points or less. In the win over San Antonio, they went off for 43 points in the third – setting the mark for points in a quarter, then breaking it by scoring 44 in the fourth.
"It was embarrassing, what happened in the first half tonight. We pretty much came out being soft and they pretty much got whatever they wanted. When it’s like that we have to come out as starters with a lot more aggressiveness and be the ones that throw the first punch. And tonight, we weren’t."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
After a rough homecoming on Saturday night, the Wine & Gold try to right the ship in the second half of the weekend back-to-back when Zion Williamson and the Pelicans roll in on Sunday.
Following Sunday’s showdown, the Cavs play three of their next four on the road – traveling to Tobacco Road for a Wednesday night meeting with the Hornets followed by a visit from Steph Curry and the Warriors the following evening at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
On Saturday, the Cavalies make their second visit to Chicago since the Break followed by a stop in Motown the following Monday.