Here’s what happened on day 19 of the 2017 NBA Playoffs:
CLE 115 – TOR 94, CLE leads series 3-0
Despite Kyle Lowry being sidelined, the Toronto Raptors trailed by just two points, 79-77, entering the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Cleveland Cavaliers took over.
The defending champions opened the period on a 20-3 that put the game away, 99-80, as the Raptors offense ground to a halt.
During last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors also dropped the first two games to the Cavaliers, but rallied to take the next two while in the North. That wasn’t the case here, as LeBron James and company put themselves on the brink of advancing to the next round.
James led the way with 35 points on 9-of-16 shooting, plus a 15-of-16 effort from the stripe, plus eight rebounds, seven assists, and a steal. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving added 16 points each, while Kyle Korver nailed four triples en route to 14 points.
DeMar DeRozan led four Raptors starters in double-digits scoring-wise with 37 points, including a perfect 13-of-13 clip from the free throw line. Jonas Valanciunas, back in the first five, had 19 markers and eight boards. Norman Powell scored 13, while Serge Ibaka chipped in 12.
SAS 103 – HOU 92, SAS leads series 2-1
The San Antonio Spurs picked up a valuable road win, to go up 2-1 on the Houston Rockets.
With the game tied at 39-all, the visiting Spurs scored the first half’s last four points, to take a slim 43-39 edge into the intermission. They got their first double-digit lead of the match off a Dany Green triple, 55-45, only for the Rockets to get within a point, 58-57, 4:19 left in the third. In response, 10 straight from the Spurs made it an 11-point affair, 68-57.
The two sides went back-and-forth through the latter part of the third, and into the fourth. A Trevor Ariza slam off a James Harden dish made it a four-point game, 76-72, 7:50 still to play. A LaMarcus Aldridge layup and a Kawhi Leonard triple sandwiched two Harden charities, 88-76, but it was Danny Green that helped land the decisive blow, nailing three-pointers on consecutive Spurs possessions, to make it 94-82. After Harden missed a triple in an attempt to respond, two at the line by Patty Mills, plus a technical free throw by Leonard sealed the deal, putting it at 97-82, 2:38 left.
Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge both scored 26 points to top-score for the Spurs. Leonard was 9-of-20 from the field, but had 10 rebounds, seven assists, and a steal. Aldridge was even better, going 12-of-20. Patty Mills came off the bench for 15 markers.
James Harden had an explosive outing, 43 points on a 50 percent shooting clip, though he was only 5-of-13 from deep. He dished out five assists and tallied three steals, but was whistled for four fouls and turned the ball over a team-high five times. Trever Ariza chipped in 17 points, while Clint Capela logged a double-double of 12 points and 16 caroms. However, their bench provided just 10 points.
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