Unstoppable LeBron James on fire as Cleveland Cavaliers top Toronto Raptors to take firm grip on NBA play-off series
The Cavs win a second straight game at Air Canada Centre to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series
LeBron James scored 43 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers powered to a 128-110 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday to strengthen their grip on their NBA Eastern Conference play-off series.
The Cavaliers, who broke Raptors hearts with a 113-112 overtime triumph on Tuesday, may well have broken their spirit as they won a second straight game at Air Canada Centre to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven second-round series that shifts to Cleveland on Saturday.
“We’ve got to continue to keep our guards up and continue to push,” cautioned James, whose 14 assists matched his career play-off high.
James passed Elgin Baylor for eighth all time with his 104th play-off double-double. This was his 23rd play-off game with at least 40 points and his fourth so far this post-season.
Kevin Love added 31 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavs. JR Smith scored 15, George Hill chipped in 13 and Jeff Green came off the bench to contribute 14 as the Cavs extended their post-season dominance of the Raptors.
“This was a complete team effort,” James said. “It’s a big win for us.”
Cleveland have eliminated Toronto from the play-offs in each of the past two seasons, including a sweep in the second round last year.
The Raptors, seeded first in the East for the first time, thought things would be different this season.
But the Cavs, trailing by two at half-time, eviscerated the Raptors in the third quarter, opening the second half on an 8-0 scoring run to seize a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
James and Love combined for 24 of Cleveland’s 37 points in the period – matching Toronto’s third quarter total.
DeMar DeRozan paced the Raptors and Kyle Lowry added 21. But Lowry was in foul trouble early in the third quarter and the Raptors’ 11 turnovers, leading to 13 Cavs’ points were costly – especially in comparison to Cleveland’s three turnovers.