The Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Toronto Raptors last night, ultimately losing by a final score of 99-93. Raptors small forward DeMar DeRozen carried the Raptors down the stretch (scoring 16 fourth quarter points) and he finished with a game high 33 points. Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving lead Cleveland with 25 points in a season high 45 minutes of action. Right Down Euclid staff writer Marlowe Alter penned the recap for RDE:
DeRozan scored 16 fourth quarter points but it was his defense that won the game. With 35 seconds left and the Cavaliers trailing 94-91, Spencer Hawes rifled a pass to a seemingly open Tyler Zeller cutting to the front of the rim for what looked like an easy two points. But DeRozan, standing in the corner across from Luol Deng, anticipated the pass, rotated from the weakside and knocked the ball into the hands of teammate Kyle Lowry as Zeller tumbled to the floor. DeRozan and Lowry salted the game away with five free throws, putting the Raptors seven games above .500 for the first time in six years and comfortably in third place in the Eastern Conference.
Two interesting ideas came out of this game. For starters, coach Mike Brown road his starting unit heavily. Irving (as noted above) played a season-high in minutes and Jarrett Jack was the only starter to play less than 30 minutes. Brown also only played nine players and only seven played more than 20 minutes. This is likely to change once Dion Waiters, C.J. Miles and Anderson Varejao return from injury, but if anything, last night taught us that the Brown is all-in trying to win every possibly game.
Also, Brown showed no hesitation in playing Tyler Zeller and Spencer Hawes (who started his first game as a Cavalier) on the floor at the same time. It was an interesting tactical choice by Brown and it likely means that rookie Anthony Bennett’s minutes are going to be cut – especially once Varejao returns from injury. It is also a clear indication that Brown wants to go big to give the Cavaliers any advantage they can.
If you missed the game, check out the full highlights below, as well as a nifty dunk from DeRozen and some wizardry from Irving.