If the Raptors' rout of the rival Cleveland Cavaliers was a clash of styles, then their game Saturday against the visiting Golden State Warriors will be more like the students taking on the masters. For the first time in his National Basketball Association (NBA) career, the 33-year-old forward has lost consecutive games by 25 or more points.
The final seconds of the game saw James step out of bounds on his way to a potential game-winning layup.
The Cavaliers entered Friday's contest seemingly in disarray.
With only two losses at the Air Canada Centre this season, the Raptors are establishing a dominance that can make them a risky team if they can secure home court advantage. They won't need reminding, though, that Cleveland has dumped them from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. After Oladipo's jumper gave IN an early 6-4 lead, the Cavaliers reeled off 22 unanswered points. They made a huge mistake that could've cost them the game.
IN got a nice offensive boost from its bench to start the next frame, particularly veteran big man Al Jefferson.
No quick remedy for the Cavaliers exists at this point with just four weeks remaining before the trade deadline arrives. The Pacers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Friday games, 2-5 ATS in their last 7 vs.
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Critics will claim the game was meaningless and that Cleveland's effort wanes from night-to-night.
The Pacers responded in kind with a second charge.
The Cavaliers, who at one point threatened to dislodge the Boston Celtics atop the Eastern Conference standings, have dropped 7 of their last 10 games. IN shut out the Cavs over the final 3:57 and twice stopped James when he could have given the Cavs the lead.
Following a film session on Wednesday, when Lue highlighted all the poor possessions the Cavs had against the Wolves when they simply didn't play hard enough to give themselves a chance, Cleveland appeared to be a loose group heading into the night.
HORNETS 99, JAZZ 88: Kemba Walker scored 22 points and Frank Kaminsky added 16 to lead Charlotte, at home, to its fourth victory in six games. Oladipo added 19 points, Thaddeus Young had 12 points and seven rebounds, while both Stephenson (16 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists) and Domantas Sabonis (12 points and 15 boards) recorded double-doubles. Jeff Green and Jae Crowder were the second- and third-leading scorers with 13 and 11 each, and Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade were virtually non-existent.
The 97-95 loss to the Pacers was the third straight for the Cavs after they went on a 22-0 run and led 26-6 just minutes into the first quarter.