NBA playoffs: Cavaliers take 3-0 series lead over Raptors; Spurs beat Rockets in Game 3
LeBron James scored 35 points, Kevin Love contributedd 16 points and 13 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Toronto Raptors 115-94 on Friday night to take a 3-0 lead in their second-round playoff series.
DeMar DeRozan scored 37 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 19 for the Raptors, who were without three-time All-Star Kyle Lowry. They trailed by only two after three quarters before the Cavaliers quickly blew open the game.
Game 4 is Sunday in Toronto.
The Cavaliers are the only team since the Minneapolis Lakers in 1949 and 1950 to win their first seven playoff games in consecutive seasons.
Cleveland won 10 straight to begin the playoffs last year. That streak ended when Toronto beat the Cavs in Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, but the Raptors couldn’t duplicate the feat this time around.
Kyrie Irving scored 16 points and Kyle Korver had 14 for the Cavaliers, who have posted three straight double-digit wins over Toronto. James had eight rebounds and seven assists.
Norman Powell scored 13 points and Serge Ibaka had 12 for the Raptors, who shot a dismal two for 18 from three-point range.
Lowry sprained his left ankle in the third quarter of Game 2 and did not practice Thursday. He worked out a few hours before Friday’s game and was on the court during warmups but limped back to the locker room before the national anthems. Cory Joseph started for Toronto.
Even without Lowry, the Raptors trailed 79-77 to begin the fourth, but Cleveland pulled away as Toronto missed 10 of its first 11 field goal attempts to begin the final quarter. James hit four free throws on either side of a three-pointer to put the Cavaliers up 97-80 with 6:20 left.
The Raptors missed their first 12 shots from three-point range before Powell connected with 3:09 left in the third.
Toronto lost Powell to a left ankle injury midway through the first quarter. He went to the locker room to have his ankle re-taped and returned to start the second.
Cleveland led 28-24 after the first, its smallest lead at the end one quarter in the series so far. The Cavaliers led by 12 after the first in Games 1 and 2.
James scored 10 in the second but DeRozan had 13 for Toronto, which led 52-49 at halftime despite going 0 for 9 from long range.
Cleveland regained the lead on a basket by Love with 1:12 left in the third and Korver added a pair of three-pointers in the final 47 seconds to give the Cavaliers the lead going to the fourth.
San Antonio 103, at Houston 92: Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points apiece to help the Spurs, now without Tony Parker, beat the Rockets to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Aldridge had managed just 19 points combined in the first two games, but stepped up in the wake of Parker’s season-ending leg injury, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter to help the Spurs pull away.
Game 4 is Sunday night in Houston.
James Harden led the Rockets with 43 points after scoring only 13 in Game 2. But he had just five assists and complained about the officiating all night.
The Spurs were playing in the postseason without Parker for the first time since 2001, ending an NBA record of 221 straight playoff appearances for the Frenchman. The 34-year-old was injured in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
Coach Gregg Popovich started rookie Dejounte Murray in San Antonio’s first game since Parker’s season-ending quadriceps injury, instead of moving Patty Mills into the starting lineup. Mills had 15 points in 30 minutes and Murray scored just two points in 15 minutes.
The Spurs led by six when Aldridge scored all of their points in a 7-2 run to make it 85-74 with about five minutes left.
Houston scored six straight points soon after that to get within eight, but Danny Green made two three-pointers in less than a minute to push the lead to 94-82 with less than three minutes remaining.