James hit a floater off the glass as time expired to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 105-103 win over the Raptors on Saturday in Game 3 of their second-round series. The Cavs own a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and have won nine straight playoff games against Toronto.
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James didn't quite match his historically brilliant Game 2, but he didn't need to. Three of the Cavs' other four starters were in double figures, led by a 21-point, 16-rebound effort from Love, who has looked resurgent in the last two games.
James finished with 38 points, seven assists and six rebounds, taking over for a brilliant fourth quarter. He scored 16 points in the final 12 minutes, including their final seven.
It was yet another stake driven into the heart of the Raptors by James, who has tortured this franchise to the point he might start being detained at the border. The Raptors never led but had battled their way back from 17 down, tying things up with 8.8 seconds remaining on an OG Anunoby three. But, almost as if he was toying with the Raptors before ripping their hearts out, James drove the length of the court and hit the game-winner as time expired.
James has now hit five postseason buzzer-beaters in his career.
The All-Star big has combined for 52 points and 27 rebounds over the last two games after being a glaring minus for much of the postseason. Love failed to reach 20 points in the Cavs' first eight playoff games and was held to single digits four times, including a frustrating Game 1 where he was dominated by Jonas Valanciunas.
The resurgence has largely come from Love playing center, a switch he'd bristled at in the past but has embraced in the postseason spotlight.
"It’s been good for [Love]," Cavs coach Ty Lue told reporters after Game 2. "He made the All-Star team playing the five. I think we can use him in different situations now like running wide pindowns for him like he’s a guard and curling him out in the corner with bigs guarding him. And then, when he’s running the floor, bigs are taught to run back to the paint. So if he’s spreading the floor in transition and 'Bron’s coming full speed, he’s going to get open threes in transition."
Kyle Korver continued his stellar postseason with 18 points, and George Hill added 12. Jeff Green contributed 11 points off the bench.
The Raptors were led by a 27-point effort from Kyle Lowry and 18 from Anunoby, who did not shy away from any big moments. Lowry and Anunoby combined for 26 of the Raptors' 38 fourth-quarter points in their comeback effort.
Adding exactly zero points was DeMar DeRozan, who sat out the entire fourth quarter. DeRozan finished with just eight points, and the Raptors were outscored by 23 points when he was on the floor.
The teams reconvene for Game 4 on Monday.