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Love, Garland scores 22 as Cavs baffle Raptors 144-99

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Love, Garland scores 22 as Cavs baffle Raptors 144-99

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Kevin Love and Darius Garland scored 22 points each, and the Cleveland Cavaliers tied their franchise record with 46 points in the third quarter of a 144-99 loss to the COVID-19 exhausted Toronto Raptors on Sunday night.

Lauri Markkanen added 20 points and Garland had eight assists for Cleveland, who led by 47 points twice in the bottom of the fourth. The Cavaliers won their fifth in a row at home and had 22 3-pointers in a team-record 52 attempts.

It was Cleveland’s biggest margin of victory of the season and the first time Toronto has lost more than 17 points in 2021-22. The Cavaliers have collected 39 assists, two fewer than the NBA this season.

“We’re lucky to be in this position where we have such a good thing going on,” said Markkanen. “We play hard and we play basketball selflessly. Once we brought in the energy we needed, the floodgates kind of opened after that.”

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Yuta Watanabe recorded a career-high 26 points and 13 rebounds for Toronto, and Chris Boucher scored 21 points. The Raptors have 10 players in NBA health and safety protocols, including top scorer Fred VanVleet, rookie Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam.

“We must have suffered a pretty good loss tonight, but we’ll bounce back,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “It was a good game for Yuta, and that’s about it.”

Toronto’s active eight-player roster – including four struggling signers – had never been together until they had a brief practice on the main court at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse before the game. DJ Wilson had 15 points and eight rebounds on his team debut.

“We met these guys on the bus on our way to the arena,” Watanabe said. “Because we weren’t allowed to do anything together the last few days, I spent a lot of time in the gym on my own preparing shots. That’s all you could do.”

The Raptors’ previous two games were postponed when they couldn’t get the required eight players together. Boucher, Watanabe, Svi Mykhailiuk and Dalano Banton were the only survivors of their pre-outbreak team.

Denzel Valentine had 17 points and nine rebounds, Dean Wade had 17 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 points and six assists for Cleveland. Love caught nine boards and Tacko Fall scored three points and seven rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench.

“We have a good thing going on and I’m having a lot of fun,” Love said. “It will be great to see this young team develop. We know that we are going to get the best out of everyone in the future, so I hope 2022 will be a year of growth.”

Rookie Evan Mobley and center Jarrett Allen were among the Seven Cavaliers sidelined due to security protocols. Cleveland has the fifth-best Eastern Conference record at 20-13.

“The Raptors came out and played hard, but as the game progressed we got more physical and that obviously took a toll on them,” Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff said.

ADVICE

Raptors: G Gary Trent Jr., F Precious Achiuwa, F OG Anunoby, C Khem Birch, F Isaac Bonga, F Justin Champagnie and G Malachi Flynn are also in the health and safety protocols. … G Goran Dragic (personal reasons) and G David Johnson (left calf strain) were officially active, but unavailable. … F DJ Wilson, F Juwan Morgan, C Daniel Oturu and G Tremont Waters are on a 10 day contract via list exceptions.

Cavaliers: G Isaac Okoro missed his third straight game while working on his conditioning after being left out of safety protocols. … F Cedi Osman was added to the protocols earlier today, joining C Ed Davis, G RJ Nembhard, G Lamar Stevens and F Dylan Windler. … Cleveland leads the East and ranks third in the NBA with 15 double-digit wins. The Cavaliers’ last 11 victories have been at least 10 points.

CHRISTMAS GIFT

Bickerstaff, who was promoted to the post on February 19, 2020, signed a multi-year contract extension on Saturday morning. The son of longtime NBA coach and current Cleveland senior adviser Bernie Bickerstaff has taken over a team in disarray following John Beilein’s resignation. “If you look at our roster, we’ve got guys locked in here for a long time,” said Bickerstaff, who is 47-69 with the Cavaliers. “Now with this coaching staff we are also locked in for a long time.”

FOLLOWING

Raptors: Host Philadelphia Tuesday night.

Cavaliers: Visit New Orleans Tuesday night.

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