LOS ANGELES: Kyle Lowry nailed a clutch game-winning jumper en route to a career high 43 points as the Toronto Raptors edged Cleveland 99-97 in a showdown between the two top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Lowry drained a long-range shot from just inside the three-point line with 3.8 seconds left as the Raptors moved to within two NBA games of the first place Cavaliers.
“I just wanted to attack and stay aggressive,” Lowry said. “We came in here focused on defense. We held a good team to under 100 points and got the win.”
Lowry’s shot over outstretched Cavaliers’ defender Matthew Dellavedova was the first NBA game winner of his career and it came in front of a home crowd of 19,800 at the Air Canada Centre arena on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
“Kyle had a hell of a game,” Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said of Lowry, who also had nine assists. “He just did all the right things when they needed him to.”
The win allowed the Raptors to breathe new life into the standings battle and it marked their franchise record 10th consecutive win at home in a single season.
Toronto tied the game on a hook shot by Lowry with 51 seconds remaining. Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith missed a three-point attempt with 26 seconds left and the Raptors had the ball. Lowry hit a pull-up jumper with 3.8 seconds to play.
Cleveland had a chance to win at the buzzer, but LeBron James’ three-point attempt sailed harmlessly by the basket.
“I had a good look. That’s not why we lost the game,” said James, who finished with 25 points. “We had mental mistake after mental mistake.”
The Raptors (39-19) also took the season series 2-1.
Reserve forward Terrence Ross added 15 points for Toronto, centre Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points and nine rebounds while reserve centre Bismack Biyombo had 11 points. Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan was held to six points.
Forward Love added 20 points and nine rebounds for Cleveland, Smith had 13 points, and guard Kyrie Irving had 10. Tristan Thompson had six points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland.
Walker provides finishing touch
Guard Kemba Walker hit a driving layup with 2.4 seconds remaining to lift the Charlotte Hornets to a 96-95 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana (31-27) had taken a 95-94 lead on a Monta Ellis runner with 16 seconds remaining, and the Hornets (30-27) called a timeout with 10 seconds to play. Walker caught the inbounds pass in the backcourt and drove right to the basket for the game-winner.
The Pacers had a final chance to win it, but forward Paul George missed a 15-foot jumper as time expired. George led all scorers with 32 points.
Forward Marvin Williams led the Hornets with 26 points, and Walker finished with 22.
Hawks end losing streak
The Atlanta Hawks snapped a three-game losing skid with a 103-88 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday.
Guard Jeff Teague had 19 points and nine assists for the Hawks, who forced Chicago into 21 turnovers.
Centre Al Horford scored 18 points and forward Kent Bazemore tallied 17 points.
Forward Doug McDermott had 20 points for the Bulls and centre Pau Gasol had his 33rd double-double of the season, grabbing 17 rebounds and scoring 16 points.
The Bulls were without guard Derrick Rose because of a hamstring injury.