CLEVELAND — Fed up with losing, the Toronto Raptors are finally changing their attitude.
“Sooner or later, you’ve got to man up and buck up,” coach Dwane Casey said after a 113-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
The Raptors bucked up in many ways in winning their third straight game for the first time this season. Jose Calderon scored a season-high 23 points and Toronto won on the road for the second time this season. The Raptors snapped an 11-game skid away from home, winning on the road for the first time since Nov. 13 when they beat Indiana. Toronto is 2-14 away from the Air Canada Centre.
“At some point, you have to play and have some fun,” Calderon said. “At the end of the day, it’s a team sport. It’s about doing it the right way and getting everyone involved — that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Alan Anderson hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with 18 points for Toronto. Amir Johnson scored 17 points and DeMar DeRozan added 16. John Lucas III had eight points in the final quarter, including a key four-point play. Toronto again played without centre Andrea Bargnani and guard Kyle Lowry, their second and third leading scorers. Both have missed the last four games. Bargnani has an injured right elbow while Lowry has a torn right triceps.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott knows his team hasn’t been doing much right lately. The Cavaliers have dropped 10 of 11.
“When you give up 64 points in the second half and 35 in the fourth quarter, you’re not going to win a lot of games,” Scott said.
The Cavaliers have lost four straight since beating the Los Angeles Lakers last week. Cleveland dropped a one-point decision to New York on Saturday.
“I’m not trying to make excuses, but when we play the lower-echelon teams we don’t come out as we want to,” said Kyrie Irving, who led Cleveland with 23 points. “When we’re playing against the Lakers and New York, we’re in the game. We have to come with a more focused attitude.”
Irving was coming off a career-high 41 points against the Knicks. The reigning rookie of the year, currently playing with a broken bone in his jaw, is wearing a protective mask.
Cavaliers centre Anderson Varejao, the league’s leading rebounder, left the game briefly after injuring his right knee in the first quarter. Playing with a sleeve on his knee, Varejao had 22 points and 10 rebounds in 39 minutes. Scott hopes he will be able to play Wednesday night in Boston.
“I’m still concerned,” Scott said. “Even though he played … we’ve got a flight, we’ve got another (game) tomorrow. We’ll see how he feels.”
Varejao landed awkwardly on his right leg and crumpled to the floor in pain after being fouled late in the first quarter. He limped to the locker room, but returned with 9:04 remaining in the second quarter. The Cavaliers announced he had a bruised knee.
Seconds after returning to the game, Varejao was knocked hard to the floor by Johnson and appeared to land on his tailbone. Johnson was assessed with a flagrant one foul and Varejao stayed in the game.
The Raptors led 78-76 going into the fourth quarter, but used a 17-7 run to open a 12-point lead. John Lucas III’s four-point play, two 3-pointers by Anderson and five points by Johnson helped Toronto build its lead.
Anderson began the quarter with a 3-pointer and Lucas followed with a rebound basket. After a Dion Waiters dunk, Lucas hit a 3-pointer, was fouled by Daniel Gibson and made the free throw to put Toronto ahead 87-78.
Johnson then hit two foul shots, converted a three-point play and Anderson hit his second 3-pointer.
The Raptors have won six of their last eight games against the Cavaliers overall, including each of their last four trips to Cleveland.
Waiters returned after missing eight games with a sprained left ankle, scoring eight points in 29 minutes. Irving and Waiters were starting together in the backcourt for only the 11th time this season. Irving missed 11 games with a broken left index finger before returning last week.
Gibson left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. He didn’t know if he would play against Boston.