And that has been the biggest fallacy this season — that the Raptors have the kind of elite talent to succeed with frequency in the NBA. DeMar DeRozan hit an incredible game-winning shot on Thursday, Ed Davis is coming along nicely and Jonas Valanciunas holds promise. Kyle Lowry, perhaps the Raptors’ most talented NBA player, has struggled to fit in with his new team.
As they tried to guard against Kyrie Irving tying the game, the Raptors forgot all about the possibility he could win it. With one of their most passive defensive efforts of the game when toughness was called for, the Raptors let Irving bury a three-pointer with less than a second left in the game as they lost a heartbreaking 99-98 decision to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Air Canada Centre.
The funny thing is, after reading the first sentence, you probably could have guessed how this one was going to end up. Toronto is now an incredible 1 and 17 in games they trail by five or less points in final three minutes. We’ve spoken about it at length on the site of late and again tonight, fourth quarter execution was a major issue. The Raps were outscored 33 to 23 in the final quarter, as the Raps’ D went on hiatus. Cleveland hit 13 of 19 field goals and out-rebounded Toronto 10 to 5.
As a young core, Toronto carries several nice pieces. Kyle Lowry is a fantastic point guard. I think that Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunas provide a strong big man rotation for several years. Now they need to determine which of their under-25 wing contingent of Landry Fields Terrence Ross, and Demar Derozan stay healthy, and produce effectively and consistently.
Uncle Drew walked the ball up and drained a 27-footer with 0.7 seconds left on the clock to the give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 99-98 victory. This was Kyrie’s 5th game winner in his 85 career games. He finished the game with 32 points.
I thought Alan Anderson was the correct choice to be guarding Irving since Lowry wasn’t on the floor, but once the game clock reached 5 seconds, Anderson should have realized Irving wasn’t driving and closed the gap between them. It was an absurdly long game-winner but Kyrie has that kind of range on his jumper.
Almost exactly 48 hours after having celebrated the unbelievable feeling a buzzer-beating victory can bring to a team, the Raptors found themselves on the other end of the stick. A Kyrie Irving three-pointer from 28 feet was the dagger that turned another potentially momentum building victory into a crushing defeat as the Cleveland Cavaliers walked out of Toronto with a 99-98 win.
“We had a quick little conversation and he said, ‘What should I do?’” Byron Scott said. “I said, ‘We’re just going to clear it out for you and, me personally, I’d go for the win. Don’t leave much time up there and just go for the win,’ he said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do,’ and I said, ‘Sounds good.’
Irving left no doubt in anyone’s mind about his All-Star credentials, draining 32 points on 13/26 shooting, which included 3/5 from distance. He was the beneficiary of some dubious calls on his drives, so enjoyed several very questionable and1 opportunities. Jose Calderon, who’s not a whiner, could be seen saying “I never touched him” on one such. None of that detracts from Irving’s brilliant performance, and his luminous future.
Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin (and mainstream media around the world) are still swooning over DeMar DeRozan’s buzzer beater to beat the Magic on Thursday night. That one shot almost makes up for his dismal January. It’s pretty much the equivalent of a deadbeat alcoholic husband buying his wife diamond earrings on her birthday. Except that the wife doesn’t have to pay her husband ten million dollars a season just to be with her. But then again, Raptors fans don’t have to clean up after a drunken DeRozan every night (I’m 85% sure about this).
What did you say to Kyrie Irving after the game? I told him I’m glad you took my advice and went for the win, went for the kill. During the game, he’s still a kid. He’s just having fun, enjoying himself and he’s playing at an unbelievably high level right now. – Byron Scott
“I think we played well enough to win this game, it’s a tough one,” Calderon said. “(Irving) made a great three. . . but still, we shouldn’t have got in that situation.”
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