NBA Coast to Coast: Raptors get close-up look at toughened Cavaliers

NBA Coast to Coast: Raptors get close-up look at toughened Cavaliers
Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving slips past Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas for a layup in the first half of their game Friday night in Toronto. (Nathan Denette / Associated Press)

Less than two weeks ago, the Raptors went into Cleveland and rallied from an early 18-point deficit to win by 17 points, causing LeBron James to call the Cavaliers “a very fragile team.”

It hasn't taken long for Cleveland to toughen up.

James had 24 points and a season-best 13 assists, Kevin Love added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the Cavaliers won their sixth consecutive game by beating Toronto, 105-91, on Friday night.

“We definitely owed them one tonight,” Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving said after the game. “They came into our house and they gave it to us, hands down. That definitely motivated all of us.”

Tristan Thompson set season highs with 21 points and 14 rebounds while Irving scored 15 for Cleveland, unbeaten since that Nov. 22 loss to Toronto.

“I feel really good with where I am but I feel even greater as far as where our team is right now,” James said.

Amir Johnson scored a season-high 27 points and Kyle Lowry had 22 as Toronto lost for the third time in five games.

“They're starting to pick it up,” Johnson said of the Cavaliers. “They're definitely starting to play better and move the ball better than they did.”

—Associated Press



Remote control

Known for his fiery nature, San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich missed two games after an undisclosed minor medical procedure. Popovich was asked whether he yelled at the television while watching the Spurs play during his recovery. "I'm a little more mature than that. I save it for when I'm coaching."

Old for his age

New Orleans Coach Monty Williams was an assistant for Team USA during the FIBA Basketball World Cup and had the opportunity to coach Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on that gold-medal winning team. Williams noted the difference between the two Warriors guards. "Steph is a bit more conversational," Williams said. "Klay is like a crotchety old man. He really doesn't want anything to do with anyone. He just wants to play ball."


At least Chicago Bulls rookie forward Nikola Mirotic found some humor in an embarrassing moment. Charlotte guard Kemba Walker's crossover dribble made Mirotic lose his balance and fall on the court. Mirotic tweeted: "Don't worry guys, my ankles are okay. Just need a little ice."

Just win, baby

Philadelphia Coach Brett Brown, whose team lost 17 games before getting its first win of the season, said the 76ers aren't tanking. "Everything we're doing is about winning. I coach to win. I talk about winning. We plan to win. We prepare to win. I get why [tanking] comes up, but it's not even close."

—Broderick Turner


Dallas at Memphis

Tuesday, 5 p.m. PST. TV: NBA.

This will be a showdown between two of the best teams in the NBA. It's also the first of four meetings this season between the Southwest Division rivals. Much of the battle in this game should involve Dallas' duo of power forward Dirk Nowitzki and center Tyson Chandler against Memphis' front-court stars of power forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol.

—Broderick Turner