Raptors 87, Cavaliers 86
CLEVELAND (AP)—Jeff McInnis is nursing two new injuries: a sprained left ankle and some severely damaged NBA playoff hopes.
Jalen Rose made a 3-pointer in the final second, and the Toronto Raptors ended a seven-game losing streak—and perhaps Cleveland’s postseason chances— with an 87-86 victory over the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
“We worked so hard,” said McInnis, who returned to the lineup after missing six straight games with a bruised right shoulder. “Jalen got an open look, and it just hurts, because we worked so hard the whole game.”
Rose’s 3-pointer with six-tenths of a second left capped a gorgeous final possession that kept Toronto’s playoff pulse beating for at least another game.
A loss would have eliminated the Raptors from the playoffs.
“They stepped it up,” Toronto coach Kevin O’Neill said. “This was a good win.”
The Cavs’ fifth straight loss dropped them three games behind idle Boston for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is four back of the Celtics.
Vince Carter scored 32 points, Rose added 15 and Donyell Marshall had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Toronto. The Raptors, who scored just eight points in the third quarter, finished with a season-high 12 blocks.
McInnis sparked the Cavaliers, who had gone 1-9 since the point guard bruised his shoulder in a March 16 win over Chicago. The Cavaliers, back to looking like a playoff-caliber team, led 86-84 after James made two free throws with 11.6 seconds left.
Toronto called timeout and Cleveland figured the ball would go to Carter, which it did. The Raptors’ All-Star guard was then able to drive the lane, forcing the Cavs’ defense to collapse on him.
Carter then kicked the ball outside and the Raptors alertly reversed it around the key to a wide-open Rose, who gathered himself and buried his 3-pointer.
“Everybody wants to take the shot that wins an NBA game,” Rose said. “Everybody counts down five, four, three, two, one—whether you’re playing your big brother or the guy down the street.
“Everybody wants to be in that position. Tonight I was, and I hit the shot.”
Ira Newble’s inbounds pass intended for James just before the horn was tipped away as Cavs lost a game they desperately needed to win.
The Cavaliers could take a lesson from the way the Raptors set up Rose’s game-winner.
“They just kept swinging it around,” James said. “They showed a lot of patience. That was great.”
McInnis’ return appeared it would end with a win when the Cavs opened a 80-74 lead with 5:01 left. However, he rolled his left ankle when he landed on Rose’s foot and had to be helped to the locker room with 3:58 left.
He returned with his ankle heavily taped and waited patiently near the scorer’s table for a stoppage before finally re-entering with 43.6 seconds to go. But by then the Raptors had clawed back in it behind Rose and Carter.
McInnis said he’ll try to play on Wednesday in Memphis.
“I’m only maybe 85 percent, but I want to help this team,” McInnis said. “I feel bad, but that’s the way the game goes.”
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavs, who have five games left.
Toronto was awful in the third period, shooting 3-for-22 from the field and committing six turnovers to help the Cavaliers overcome a 53-44 halftime deficit.
McInnis, who had eight points and two assists in the quarter, hit a 15-foot jumper with two seconds to go as the Cavs went into the fourth leading 63-61.
Cleveland seemed content to watch Carter in the first quarter, and hetorched the Cavs for 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
Toronto last scored eight points in a third quarter on April 10, 2002, at Indiana. … Marshall strutted into Gund Arena wearing a Connecticut “National Champions” cap after attending UConn’s title game win over Georgia Tech in San Antonio. Marshall chartered a plane along with teammates Chris Bosh and Dion Glover—both former Yellow Jackets. Marshall ran on the floor afterward to celebrate the Huskies’ second NCAA title. “I didn’t get to go to the first one in ’99,” said Marshall, the first high school All-American to go to UConn. “It’s nice to know it was something I helped get going.” … To make room for McInnis, the Cavs released G Mateen Cleaves two days before his10-day contract was up.