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Cavaliers torch the Raptors 116-78 in Game 5

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 26th, 2016

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The Toronto Raptors rode a wave of momentum into Cleveland on Wednesday.

But by the merciful end of an atrocious Game 5 effort, it was tough to believe the Raptors had ever beaten the Cavaliers at all.

Cleveland’s trio of Kevin Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined for 71 points as the Cavaliers thoroughly trounced the Raptors 116-78 to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

DeMar DeRozan had 14 points, while Kyle Lowry had 13, but no other Raptor scored in double digits in Toronto’s worst performance of these playoffs. Jonas Valanciunas returned from his ankle injury to score nine points in 19 minutes.

The Raptors were coming off back-to-back victories at the Air Canada Centre, infusing fans with a glimmer of hope for an historic NBA finals appearance. But the Cavaliers’ homecourt had proven deadly to Toronto in Games 1 and 2: a 50-point deficit combined.

Coach Dwane Casey has predicted a different game on their return trip to Cleveland, but it was evident virtually from the opening whistle that they were in for a long night.

In a noisy Quicken Loans Arena awash in wine and gold, they looked completely discombobulated. They were terrible in virtually every category, a dog’s breakfast of poor decisions, terrible shooting, and head-slapping turnovers. Their defensive effort, against a Cavs team that opened the post-season 10-0, was half-hearted.

They’d dug themselves an 18-point deficit by late in the first quarter, and when Love drained a three-pointer late in the second, the Cavs were up by a whopping 34 points. Cleveland’s 65-34 lead at the break was the biggest halftime gap in conference finals history.

When it seemingly couldn’t get worse, it did. Frustration mounted. The Raptors looked like they wanted to be anywhere else. By the end of the third, the score was a shocking 100-60.

Both teams subbed out their starters for a fourth quarter played after hundreds of fans had already departed the building.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue had blamed the two losses in Toronto on poor shooting, and his team proved him right. The Cavs shot 57 per cent on the night. Love, who’d shot 5-for-23 in Games 3 and 4, topped Cleveland with 25 points on 8-for-10 shooting.

The Cavs grabbed 48 rebounds to Toronto’s 27 – just one more than Bismack Biyombo had, on his own, in Game 3. The Raptors coughed up 30 points on 19 turnovers.

The series returns to the Air Canada Centre for Game 6 on Friday. A victory, however, would send them back into Cleveland for a do-or-die Game 7, where the noise reached ear-splitting levels Wednesday night in a crowd that included Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban and Browns defensive back Joe Haden.

Shots of Canadians Drake, Justin Bieber and Nickelback flashed on the Jumbotron, encouraging fans to boo. Late in the game, the camera focused on a downcast Raptors fan folding his “We The North” flag.

DeRozan’s four points were the most by a Raptor in a first quarter that saw Toronto trail by just four points before the Cavs closed the quarter on a 17-3 run to end the frame up 37-19.

Lowry’s six points topped Toronto in the second quarter, but they were barely noticeable in a quarter the Cavaliers outscored their visitors 28-15.

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