Cleveland’s perfect playoff run went south, north of the border, on Saturday as Toronto beat the Cavaliers 99-84 to trim the deficit in their NBA Eastern Conference finals series to 2-1.
DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and Bismack Biyombo set a Toronto playoff record with 26 rebounds, handing the Cavaliers their first loss in this postseason after 10 straight wins.
Kyle Lowry scored 20 points, Cory Joseph added 14, and Patrick Patterson and DeMarre Carroll each had 10 for the Raptors. They responded after losing the first two games in Cleveland by a combined 50 points.
“It’s a long series,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “It’s not over with yet, but everybody thought we were going to get swept. That fuels us and if that’s what it takes, so be it.”
LeBron James scored 24 points, and J.R. Smith had 22 for Cleveland, which failed in its effort to match the Los Angeles Lakers’ record of 11 straight victories to begin a postseason. The Lakers did it in 1989 and again in 2001.
“We didn’t play our game and they made us pay for it,” James said. “We didn’t start the game as physical as we should have at the point of attack.”
Biyombo had four blocks, helping Toronto limit the Cavaliers to 20 points in the paint. The Cavs had 106 points in the key in the first two games.
With his team ahead by eight, Biyombo scored six straight points in the fourth to put the Raptors up 91-77 at 3:38.
“It was amazing, honestly,” DeRozan said about Biyombo’s performance. “He was big time tonight. Without him, we probably would’t get this win.”
Kyrie Irving scored 13 points, and Channing Frye had 11 for Cleveland. The Cavaliers were held below 100 points for the first time in these playoffs.
“They came out and they beat us,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “They were more aggressive. They were more physical. They were more active. They were faster. They beat us to the ball.”
James had five assists, moving past Jason Kidd and into third place on the NBA’s career playoff list.
It was a rough night for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who scored three points and made just one of nine field goal attempts. Irving also struggled with his shooting, missing 16 of 19.
DeRozan scored 12 points in the first but saw a buzzer-beating 3 waved off after video review. Lowry scored eight points despite picking up his second four at 5:40 as Toronto led 30-24 after one. It was the first time in nine quarters this series that the Raptors had outscored the Cavaliers.
Carroll, Joseph and Patterson each made 3-pointers during a 16-2 Toronto run midway through the second as the Raptors overcame Lowry’s third foul to take a 54-37 lead.
James went down clutching his face after being accidentally elbowed by Thompson during a scuffle at center court late in the second. Thompson and Joseph were given technicals on the play. James recovered to make a 3 in the final seconds, but Cleveland trailed 60-47 at halftime.
“Our second quarter lineup didn’t do a great job of paying attention to detail,” James said. “They were able to bust the game open.”
Toronto hosts Game 4 on Monday.