(The Sports Xchange) - The Toronto Raptors crushed any ideas that they were going to be swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.
Led by 32 points from DeMar DeRozan, and a franchise playoff record of 26 rebounds by Bismack Biyombo, the Raptors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-84 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final.
“Everybody thought we were going to be swept and I think that fuels us,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I thought we played with force.”
It was the first loss of the playoffs for the Cavaliers, who swept through the first two rounds undefeated and won the first two games against the Raptors and lead the series 2-1.
“We just had a bad night but give them credit, they played well,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “They played like a team with their backs to the wall. They came out and they beat us. They were more aggressive, they were more physical, they were more active and they were faster.
“You have to give them credit, coming home and playing hard and feeding off their home crowd. We’ve got to play harder.”
The Raptors led by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, were ahead by 13 at half time, took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter and led by as many as 15 points early in the fourth.
The Cavaliers cut that to eight before Biyombo made six successive points to increase the lead to 14 with 3:38 to play.
The center finished with seven points.
“He was huge,” Casey said. “I thought he played a big-time game in the paint. He’s done it all year. He’s just kind of the spirit of our team.”
“We shoot 35 percent, there’s a lot of rebounds available,” Lue said. “He did a great job of protecting the paint; he had (four) blocked shots and he rebounded the ball well.”
“It was amazing, he was big-time,” DeRozan said. “Without him we probably wouldn’t have this win.”
Casey said Biyombo also has to deal with physical play.
“He’s getting fouled so much, he’s not getting calls,” Casey said. “There has to be some consistency. We have the greatest officials in the league but how you can miss fouls like that and calls like that and I can’t see it.”
Kyle Lowry added 20 points for the Raptors, Cory Joseph had 14 and DeMarre Carroll and Patrick Patterson each had 10.
“Just being aggressive,” DeRozan said of his big night. “Picking and choosing my spots, not second guessing, just being aggressive.”
LeBron James scored 24 points for the Cavaliers. J.R. Smith added 22 for Cleveland while Kyrie Irving had 13 and Channing Frye 11.
“First of all give a lot of credit to Toronto,” James said. “They played an exceptional game. We didn’t play our game and they made us pay for it. It was our first loss of the postseason so it is a little adversity.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, not fix everything, just fix a few things and be much better on Monday.”
Toronto led 27-24 lead after the first quarter.
Lowry picked up his third foul of the game with 8:07 left in the second quarter but Joseph did a solid job while the Raptors’ All-Star point guard spent some time on the bench.
Joseph’s 3-pointer with 4:09 to play in the second quarter gave the Raptors a 49-37 lead. After a Cavaliers’ miss, Carroll made a 3-point shot for a 15-point Toronto lead. Patterson’s layup with 1:22 to play boosted the advantage to 18.
James closed the half with a 3-pointer and the Raptors led 60-47.
The Cavaliers opened the second half on a surge and had the lead down to six with 9:44 to play in the third quarter when James made a free throw after he was fouled making a layup.
After the Raptors went up by 11, Smith hit two straight 3-pointers to trim the lead to five with 4:20 to play in the third.
Joseph hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter to give Toronto an 80-70 lead.
The Raptors scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to go up by 15.
Richard Jefferson made a layup with 6:38 to play to cut Toronto’s lead to 10.
Biyombo’s hook shot put Toronto ahead by 12 points with 4:39 to play and his layup extended the lead to 91-77.
Biyombo was called for a flagrant foul — a call disputed by the Raptors — on James and the two free throws cut the lead to 12 but the Cavaliers could not take advantage of their possession awarded after the foul shots.
“I don’t see the difference between the way I get fouled on offensive rebounds and the (flagrant) foul I committed,” Biyombo said.
Joseph’s pullup jumper with 1:38 to play restored Toronto’s 14-point lead.
Editing by Peter Rutherford