TORONTO – For nearly seconds, the Toronto Raptors looked ready to push their unlikely early-season winning streak to six games on Friday.
But Darius Garland’s two free throws with 4.8 seconds left gave the Cavaliers their first lead of the night, and a 102-101 win that ended the Raptors’ five-game winning streak.
“That seemed odd to lose,” said coach Nick Nurse. “I think we played very hard and played pretty well. I just think it was weird. “
OG Anunoby had 23 points ahead of Toronto (6-4), while Fred VanVleet finished with 18 points. Gary Trent Jr., scored 17 points and six steals, a career high.
Scottie Barnes, who returned after missing two games due to a sprained right thumb, finished with 14. Dalano Banton entered with 11.
Garland led Cleveland (6-4) with 21 points.
Despite the defeat, the Raptors’ performance so early in a rebuilding season disappointed many expectations. The nurse praised her team’s work ethic on Friday.
“We don’t get carried away (with wins), what we’re really looking for is to play as hard as possible,” Nurse said. “I thought I did it tonight, and we’re trying to play together and keep understanding each other and keep working through the rotations and giving super effort.
“If we do that, I think we have shown that we can probably pick up some wins here and there. The real goal is to keep improving more and more as we go forward. “
Returning to the Scotiabank Arena after a perfect 3-0 away trip, and riding their longest winning streak in nearly two seasons, the Raptors didn’t fall behind until those final 4.8 seconds.
Toronto amassed a 12-point lead in the first half, stretched it to 15 in the third quarter and led 80-74 to start the fourth.
Cleveland recovered however, and Jarrett Allen’s triple with 4:42 to play drew the game 94-94.
Anunoby hit a three with 1:43 to play for five breathing points, but Allen scored consecutive baskets to cut the difference with just one point with 42 seconds left.
Garland’s trip was whistled in Anunoby, leading to the decisive free throws.
“It just takes fighting to the end,” Allen said of the Cavs’ late game heroism.
Barnes missed a tip-in attempt on Anunoby’s final buzzer shot.
The Raptors were excellent defensively for much of the evening, forcing Cleveland’s 19 turnovers for 23 points.
The nurse was not keen on refereeing, saying there was a “world record for jumping balls” that night.
“Again, the ball didn’t bounce towards us, it didn’t have many breaks,” the coach said. “It felt like every ball we had had turned cleanly into a jump ball quickly or somehow. We didn’t do a great job of winning any of these. He really didn’t do us any favors. “
The Raptors, which are still not full, will be strengthened next week with the expected return of Pascal Siakam. The all-star forward recovering from off-season shoulder surgery is expected to make his seasonal debut next week.
“We’re going to be really good,” Barnes said upon Siakam’s return. “We are already very well now. But at full capacity, given how we play, we will have even more length that he can score, that he can play in defense. It will be really good. “
Kevin Pangos, one of the best Canadians of the season, made his first NBA trip to Toronto but didn’t play.
The 28-year-old guard from Holland Landing, Ontario, finally secured a job in the NBA after six years of playing in Europe when the Cavs signed him in the off-season.
“Being able to go home and play is a big problem. Being able to go home and play in the NBA is an even bigger deal. So I can imagine there is some excitement associated with that, ”Cavs manager JB Bickerstaff said before the game.
“He’s been playing professional basketball all over the place, he stays pretty balanced. . . but I think that a homecoming for each of us, when you reach this level, is linked to great emotions “.
Anunoby was a perfect 4 for 4 in the first quarter, including consecutive dunks during a 7-0 run. The Raptors led 29-28 to start the second.
Barnes led the way with eight points in the second quarter and Malachi Flynn’s triple put Toronto ahead at halftime. Toronto led 57-48 at half time.
The Raptors will host the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 5, 2021.
© 2021 The Canadian press