James scores 35, Cavaliers take 3-0 lead
By Ian Harrison
TORONTO (AP) — LeBron James scored 35 points, Kevin Love had 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 and 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 2 for 18 from 3-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 3-pointer to put the Cavs up 97-80 with 6:20 left.
The Raptors missed their first 12 shots from 3-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 3.
Cleveland regained the lead on a basket by Love with 1:12 left in the third and Korver added a pair of 3-pointers in the final 47 seconds to give the Cavs the lead going to the fourth.
Cavaliers: Cleveland finished 13 for 23 from 3-point range. … Tristan Thompson got in the face of Valanciunas after the Lithuanian center dragged James down to the court during a third-quarter skirmish. … Thompson had 12 rebounds.
Raptors: Joseph started for the first time in 70 playoff appearances. … Lowry is averaging 15.8 points and 5.9 assists in eight games so far this postseason.
Game 4 tips off at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
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