High-flying Raptors blow out Cavaliers

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LOS ANGELES: The Toronto Raptors used a balanced attack to crush Cleveland 133-99 on Thursday (Friday in Manila), handing LeBron James’ struggling Cavaliers their most lopsided loss of the season.

Fred VanVleet came off the bench to score 22 points as the Raptors embarrassed the Cavaliers by getting double figure scoring from seven different players at Air Canada Centre arena.

The Raptors improved to a 15-2 at home despite playing Thursday without starters Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.

James finished with 26 points for Cleveland who has lost six of eight games going back to a defeat to defending champion Golden State on Christmas Day.


LeBron James AFP PHOTO

Isaiah Thomas, who was slapped with a $20,000 fine on Wednesday for knocking Minnesota Timberwolves player Andrew Wiggins to the floor, missed his first 11 shots.

“I don’t know where it kind of went wrong or what happened,” James said. “We’ve got to try to pick it back up and find it.”

Toronto’s 133 points were the most by a Cleveland opponent this season, and marked the third consecutive contest that they have allowed at least 127.

C.J. Miles scored 16 points, Pascal Siakam and Norm Powell each had 14 and DeMar DeRozan 13 for the Raptors, who were without point guard Lowry (bruised tailbone) and forward Ibaka (suspension). Jakob Poeltl tallied 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors.

“One of our advantages is our youth and our speed and our fresh legs. We’ve got to take advantage of that,” said VanVleet.

The Raptors had their 12-game winning streak snapped when they lost Tuesday to Miami, but they rebounded in their first meeting with the Cavaliers since May when Cleveland swept the Raptors out of the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The Cavaliers have played nine of their past 11 games on the road, losing seven with four of them by more than 10 points.

The Cavaliers had hoped that guard Derrick Rose, who has been out since November 7 with an ankle injury, might return during this trip but he did not play Thursday and won’t play Friday at Indiana.

Suspended Ibaka offers apology to Raptors, fans
Ibaka, suspended for Thursday’s key Eastern Conference clash with the Cleveland Cavaliers, offered an apology to the Raptors and their fans.

“Sometimes during a game my emotions can lead to bad reactions and I’m not proud of that,” Ibaka wrote on his Twitter feed. “This is why I want to apologize to the Raptors organization, the fans, the staff and my teammates for my suspension.”

The Congolese-born Spaniard was suspended for one game by the NBA after trading punches with Miami Heat forward James Johnson in a game on Tuesday.

That means the Raptors will be without Ibaka and his averages of 13.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game when they host LeBron James and the Cavaliers, who are chasing Toronto for second place in the East.

It’s not the first time an outburst has cost Ibaka playing time this season. The Raptors suspended him for one game in December after he was involved in an altercation with a team staff member.

AFP

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