Kyle Lowry's big night helps Raptors even series with Cavs
Toronto guard scores game-high 35 points in Game 4 win
The Toronto Raptors say they never stopped believing — even when it seemed like no one else did.
On a night that marked their most dramatic game of this historic post-season run, the Raptors clawed their way back to even up the NBA Eastern Conference final with a 105-99 victory over Cleveland on Monday.
"Someone mentioned that we were in it just to win one game, we're in it to compete for a championship," coach Dwane Casey said.
Kyle Lowry scored 35 points, while fellow all-star DeMar DeRozan added 32. DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 11 points, while Bismack Biyombo hauled down a game-high 14 rebounds in a thrilling victory that came just two games after the Raptors had been all but written off.
"Honestly, we've been playing with our backs against the wall. We never cared what nobody else thought," DeRozan said. "It was a challenge for us every single day. We've been counted out, and we liked that challenge."
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 29 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Point guard Kyrie Irving scored 26 points and added six assists with three rebounds.
Few picked the Raptors to steal more than a token win against the Cavs, who roared red-hot into the conference finals having swept Detroit and Atlanta.
Toronto dropped Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland by a combined 50 points, and it seemed the Raptors were writing their obituary. But bolstered by the hometown crowd, they won Game 3 in dominant fashion.
Fast start for Raptors
Backed by Lowry's sharp-shooting on Monday, the Raptors raced out to an 18-point first half lead. But the Cavaliers, who'd made just three of their 22 three-point shots in the first half, started hitting from long distance. And when Irving drained two in a row, he pointed at Drake — the Toronto rapper and Cavs heckler — as he ran back upcourt.
The Raptors led 78-69 to start the fourth, but when Channing Frye drained three straight threes, and James scored on a driving layup with 8:20 left, the Cavaliers took their first lead of the game.
"At the beginning of the fourth quarter, we lost our composure," Casey said. "When we put the starters back in, they regained their foothold. I thought that was huge for us. I've always said: compete with poise, stay consistent with your emotions. That's paying dividends for us now as we go through this tough series with a great Cleveland team."
Toronto strikes back
Toronto hit back with five straight points to take a three-point advantage into the game's final three minutes. The Raptors were up by four with a minute to play and their defence came up huge, with a couple of key rebounds and a Biyombo block.
Lowry drove to the hoop for a basket with 23 seconds left, to the ear-splitting roar of the Air Canada Centre crowd, and was fouled on the play. He missed both free throws, but crowd didn't care — they saluted him with chants of "M-V-P!"
"No matter what, we're confident," Patrick Patterson said. "When we were down 0-2, we were still confident. We're always going to believe in ourselves. We're always going to have faith that we can win — whether we're down, whether we're on the road, whether we're home, we're going to constantly believe that we can win."
Game 5 is Wednesday in Cleveland, then the series returns to Toronto for Game 6 on Friday.