Basketball: Kyle Lowry hits winner as Raptors edge Clevland as Eastern giants clash

Toronto's Kyle Lowry going up for a basket as Cleveland's Tristan Thompson tries to block him. The Raptors defeated the Cavaliers 99-97 in the battle of the top two Eastern Conference sides.
Toronto's Kyle Lowry going up for a basket as Cleveland's Tristan Thompson tries to block him. The Raptors defeated the Cavaliers 99-97 in the battle of the top two Eastern Conference sides.PHOTO: REUTERS

Toronto guard's first NBA game-decider gives Raptors a 10th straight home victory

TORONTO • Kyle Lowry scored 43 points and hit a jumper with 3.8 seconds left as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-97 in a battle between the top two teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference on Friday.

The Raptors (39-19) moved to within two games of the Cavaliers (42-16) after taking the season series 2-1.

It was the 10th straight home win for the Raptors, a club record for one season, and their fourth straight win overall.

The game was tied at 91-all with three minutes to play before Toronto took a three-point lead. The Cavaliers came back to lead by two with 1min 8sec left.

Toronto tied the game on a hook shot by Lowry with 51.9 seconds to play.

Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith missed a three-point attempt with 26.9 seconds left and the Raptors had the ball.

Lowry, who also had nine assists, hit a pull-up jumper with 3.8 seconds to play.

"It was my first game-winner (in the NBA)," said the All-Star point guard.

"The big deal is that we won the game. That's all that matters. I think we grew tonight, but we've got the team to get better. "

LeBron James, who finished with 25 points for Cleveland, air-balled a three-point attempt to win the game.

The superstar forward, currently shooting a career-low 28 per cent from behind the arc, blamed the narrow defeat on a lack of mental toughness.

"When you lose the way we lost, it's mental mistake after mental mistake, and those hurt more than anything when you can play better mentally," he said.

"People get so caught up in the physical side of the game. We lack mental right now and we've got to continue to get better with it."

Forward Kevin Love added 20 points and nine rebounds for Cleveland, Smith had 13 points, and guard Kyrie Irving had 10.

Reserve forward Terrence Ross scored 15 points for Toronto, centre Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points and nine rebounds while reserve centre Bismack Biyombo had 11 points.

Toronto guard and top scorer DeMar DeRozan was held to six points.

"I wouldn't call it a statement. I'd call it, more so, us going out there and competing," he said after playing through flu-like symptoms.

"Showing we can compete with the best teams in the league."

Toronto head coach Dwane Casey also played down the significance of the victory despite pre-game talk of a potential Eastern Conference finals preview.

"Again, it is just one game," he said.

"If we come back and stub our toe on Sunday (against the Detroit Pistons) what does it mean? Nothing, zero, it is one of 82 (regular season games)."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'Lowry hits the winner'. Print Edition | Subscribe