Valanciunas, Raptors down Cavs
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Jonas Valanciunas scored 10 of his 18 points during a dominant third quarter and the Toronto Raptors came from behind to snap Cleveland's six-game winning streak with a 98-91 victory over the Cavaliers at Air Canada Centre.
Terrence Ross netted 20 points and matched a career-high with three steals to lead the Raptors, who outscored the Cavs 37-21 in the third after trailing at halftime. Kyle Lowry stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds and DeMar DeRozan scored 14 in the triumph.
Luol Deng had a game-high 21 points with 11 rebounds for Cleveland, which had won six in a row on the heels of a six-game losing skid. All-Star MVP Kyrie Irving had 17 and nine assists, but shot just 3-of-16 from the floor.
"You've got to stay defensively sound with him (Irving)," said Ross, who spent much of the tilt defending the dynamic point guard. "He can score. And defensively if you slow him down, you slow the team down."
Spencer Hawes scored seven points with 10 boards in his Cleveland debut after coming over in a deadline deal from Philly while the Cavs' top draft choice Anthony Bennett, whose struggles this season have been well documented, played well in his homecoming. The Toronto native shot 4-of-6 for nine points in the setback, also in a reserve role.
"You've got to give Toronto credit," said Cleveland head coach Mike Brown. "They came out in the second half and played hard. Their big kid Valanciunas was big. Give our guys credit, they came back and made some shots. The deficit was just too big for them to come back from."
These two teams meet again in Cleveland on Feb. 25.
The Raptors trailed 44-39 at halftime but came alive in the third behind their 7-foot center. Valanciunas cut the deficit to one with a baseline hook shot and put Toronto in front for good with a layup moments later. His jumper over Zeller at 6:46 made it 55-52.
Patrick Patterson then scored five of his eight points during a 7-0 spurt that gave the Raps a double digit lead. Aside from a 44-second spurt early in the fourth after a Bennett dunk, the double-digit margin held until the final seconds of the contest.
Jarrett Jack hit a pull-up jumper and 3-pointer around a Deng dunk, and with 45 seconds to play the Cavs were within six. It got as low as five after two Deng free throws with 4.6 ticks remaining, but DeRozan potted two at the other end to seal it.
Earlier, Hawes hit a 3-ball on his first touch as a Cavalier midway through the first quarter. Cleveland's bench shot 5-of-6 and provided 12 of the 22 points in the opening frame, as the visitors held a 22-16 edge after one.
Cleveland outrebounded Toronto, 47-42. The Cavs have won the rebounding margin in seven of the last eight games ... Jack had five assists, bringing his stretch of three straight games with at least six helpers to a halt ... Toronto outscored Cleveland 46-38 in the paint.