Basketball

Cavs put Raptors on brink, Spurs topple Rockets

Sunday, May 07, 2017

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LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — LeBron James scored 35 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors 115-94 Friday to take a 3-0 stranglehold lead in their second-round NBA play-off series.James also tallied eight rebounds and seven assists as Cleveland will seek to clinch the series with a win in game four on Sunday in Toronto.

Elsewhere, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points as the San Antonio Spurs used a barrage of late threepointers to overcome James Harden's 43-point performance to beat the Houston Rockets 103-92 in their playoff series.

The Raptors played without star point guard Kyle Lowry who sprained his ankle in Wednesday's loss in Cleveland.

Toronto led by three points at halftime, but the Cavaliers kept pressing in the third and seized command in the fourth.

James was instrumental in the comeback, scoring 13 points in the final quarter.

Lowry took part in the warm-up and was listed as active for the game, but Cory Joseph started in his place. Lowry sat on the bench for the whole game.

Kevin Love delivered 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, and Kyrie Irving also scored 16, while Kyle Korver had 14 points. Tristan Thompson added nine points and 12 rebounds.

DeMar DeRozan rebounded from a poor performance in game two to lead Toronto with 37 points.

“I liked our fight, I loved the way our guys competed,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

Casey was unusually optimistic considering his team was looking at this game as an important opportunity to play their way back into the series.

Their play-off exit appears to be nearing as they have no answer for James, who scored 39 points in game two on Wednesday to move past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar into second place on the all-time playoff scoring list.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 19 points and eight rebounds, with Norman Powell chipping in with 13 points and Serge Ibaka adding 12 for Toronto.

In Houston, Aldridge was especially dangerous from in the paint in game three as the Spurs took a 2-1 lead in the second-round Western Conference series.

He shot 12 of 20 from the field, a much better performance than the four points he scored in Houston's one-sided win in game one.

Game four is scheduled for today in Houston.

Kawhi Leonard added 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Trevor Ariza tallied 17 points for Houston but had just two after half-time.

The Rockets' three-man bench of Eric Gordon, Nene and Lou Williams combined for 10 points on three-of-19 shooting.

“They did a good job of just staying home on our shooters and forcing me to finish and make plays,” said Harden, who was 14 of 28 from the floor.

Houston shot just 36 per cent from the field and couldn't keep pace with San Antonio, who were playing without injured point guard Tony Parker. Parker will miss the remainder of the 2017 post-season after suffering a ruptured left quadriceps tendon in the fourth quarter of game two.

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