Here’s what happened on day 18 of the 2017 NBA Playoffs:
CLE 125 – TOR 103, CLE leads series 2-0
The Toronto Raptors made a change to their starting lineup. The defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers still got a one-sided win.
The Cavs lead by as much as 30 points in this one, with LeBron James leading the way with a historic night.
James overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to move into solo second on the NBA’s Playoffs scoring list. He did so with a three-pointer at the 8:41 mark of the third period, and now trails only Michael Jordan. In this one, LeBron finished with a game-best 39 points on 10-of-14 shooting, 15-of-21 from the stripe. LBJ also added six rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks in 36 minutes of action.
Toronto was still within single-digits late in the second period, 56-47 with 1:38 left, but that was the last time they were that close.
Making things worse, point guard Kyle Lowry suffered a sprained ankle when his teammate Norman Powell crashed into him, early in the third. Lowry would later come back in the same quarter, but sat out the entire fourth period. Lowry still finished as Toronto’s best starter, contributing 20 points, and five assists. Backcourt partner and fellow All-Star DeMar DeRozan was an ice-cold 2-of-11 from the field, finishing with five points.
Jonas Valanciunas, who came off the bench in this one, led the team with 23 points. Cory Joseph added 22 markers.
Kyrie Irving notched a double-double with 22 points and 11 assists. Channing Frye had 18, 15 from beyond the arc, while Iman Shumpert dropped 14 markers.
A Tristan Thompson dunk gave Cleveland their first 20-point lead at the 5:41 mark of the third. It reached a high of 30 early in the fourth, when Kyle Korver found Frye for a three-pointer, 107-77.
SAS 121 – HOU 96, series tied at 1-1
The San Antonio Spurs got a costly win against the Houston Rockets, to even up their second-round series.
The Spurs led by as much as 30 in a blowout victory, but the team is holding its collective breath until the results of an MRI for point guard Tony Parker. The veteran floor general seemed to have injured his left knee with under nine minutes left in the game, and had to be carried off the court by his teammates.
Parker checked out with San Antonio up 97-83, but the Rockets sandwiched Jonathon Simmons free throws with a Clint Capela layup and a triple from Patrick Beverley. In response though, the Spurs rattled off 19 unanswered points, to push their lead to 118-88, 3:14 left. As a result, Houston threw in the towel at the 3:54 mark, pulling their starters at the same time as San Antonio.
The Spurs took the lead early, running out to a 10-4 start, with Pau Gasol in the center spot instead of David Lee. The two teams battled to three deadlocks though, but after Capela tipped in a James Harden miss to make it 16-all, nine straight for the Spurs gave them the lead for good.
Kawhi Leonard top-scored for San Antonio with 34 points on 13-of-16 shooting. He also registered seven rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and a block, versus just two turnovers. Tony Parker had 18 points before his exit, while LaMarcus Aldridge rebounded from a poor game one outing by providing 15 markers and eight boards. Gasol was just 3-of-11 fro six points, but he came up big on defense with a team-best 13 rebounds and four blocks.
James Harden struggled anew with 13 points on a 3-of-17 shooting clip, though he dished out 10 assists. Ryan Anderson top-scored with 18 points, while Eric Gordon came off the bench with 15.
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