Raptors bench runs wild on Cavaliers

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The Toronto Raptors slapped a discombobulated Cavaliers team with one of its most lopsided losses in the second LeBron James era in Cleveland.

It's the first time in James' career he's been involved in back-to-back losses of 25 points or more and the Cavaliers' defence is being blasted as "embarrassing".

It was the latest impressive performance from a Raptors team that is on pace for the best record in franchise history, and the latest clunker from a Cavaliers team that has now surrendered its three highest point totals of the season in its last three games, and sits 29th among the 30 National Basketball Association teams in defensive efficiency halfway through the season. Does he "like" seeing his former team in disarray, or does he "like" seeing his former teammate stepping up as a leader to get his team back in order? But the Cavaliers lacked the defensive pressure and fortitude against a team without two of its starters - point guard Kyle Lowry and forward Serge Ibaka - and had minimal energy off the bench.

LeBron James' pending free agency is one of several factors that could lead to a rich, long-term deal between Isaiah Thomas and the Cavs.

"At the end of the day the seeds will take care of themselves, I just want us playing ball the right way", said James before the game.

Then there was a curious comment after the game by Lue, who said, "If guys have agendas, we've got to get rid of our agendas and play the right way". It's things we can fix, that's the good thing about it, we just have to do it and we have to do it now.

The younger players will need to remain consistent for that to happen especially if Lowry remains out. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at times.

As expected, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference. The T'Wolves hit that number in three of the four, only missing it in the fourth after emptying the bench Monday.On the season, the Cavs rank 29th in defensive rating, just mere percentage points from sitting in dead last. Prior to the game, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue spoke about how risky the Raptors were despite those absences, a message that went unheard. Poeltl also added 12 boards for the double-double finish.

The Timberwolves (27-16) lost in Boston, but they won at home over New Orleans, Cleveland and Oklahoma City. They finished with 14 turnovers resulting in 19 points for the Wolves, compared to just five turnovers for Minnesota. It was C.J. Miles, Jonas Valanciunas, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam causing the damage.

With only two losses at the Air Canada Centre this season, the Raptors are establishing a dominance that can make them a unsafe team if they can secure home court advantage.



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