CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers trailed the Toronto Raptors by 15 points at halftime after giving up 41 in the second quarter, but instead of succumbing to a team that had beaten them by 34 in early January, they fought back the only way they knew how.
The Cavaliers (42-29) outscored the Raptors (53-19), the runaway top team in the Eastern Conference, by 14 points in the third quarter and four in the fourth on the way to a 132-129 victory in front of the home fans at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night.
“I just think it showed a lot of resiliency, especially coming into the half down double digits and not fighting as hard as we should have or could have,” power forward Kevin Love said. “I definitely think it’s a big win for us coming back home from a long road trip, getting two wins under our belt. Playing here at home, the crowd was into it. It was a lot of fun.”
Point guard George Hill added, “It’s super important. Anytime we can get a big win like this, especially with guys down and things like that, it’s a confidence booster. Hopefully, we get all the guys back, continue to build off of this win and try to be on the right foot going into the postseason.”
The Raptors shot just 2.7 percent better than the Cavaliers in the first half, but made eight more field goals and six more three-pointers, blocked three Cleveland shots and converted five forced turnovers into eight points.
However, in the second half, the Cavaliers limited the Raptors to a 15-for-36 showing from the field and three-of-16 performance from three-point range. Additionally, the Raptors committed 13 fouls and five turnovers in the third and fourth quarters.
“It always feels like when our first and second units are jelling and we have that first push and we come in with fresh bodies, it’s deflating for the other team, the five guys that are playing on the opposite side of the floor,” Love said.
“I think it’s definitely a big win for us, coming back from a 12-day road trip, and we’ve got to get another one Friday, but this was big for us as far as having confidence and knowing we’re never out of a game.”
Although the Cavaliers earned a much-needed victory over the Raptors, small forward LeBron James does not believe it sent any kind of a statement to the rest of the Eastern Conference.
“It’s a good win for us, just for how depleted we are with our roster and with everything that’s been going on,” James said. “It was a good win for us versus a very good opponent, but I don’t need to remind anybody what my teams are capable of, so that wasn’t a factor.
“We’ve got work to do. There’s a lot of teams in the East that have been playing better basketball than us for the majority of the season. We’ve got 11 games left. We just want to try to continue to build over these last couple games, and if we do that, we put ourselves in a good position to go into the postseason.”