Sit down, LeBron! There’s a new king of the Eastern Conference, and it’s the Toronto Raptors. Oh wait — James is gone? And Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao didn’t dress? Oh well, a win is a win. Toronto came out with its first of the season tonight at the ACC, cruising to a 101-81 decision over the Cavs.
The Raptors grabbed an early lead against an under-manned Cleveland team and used a 31-17 third quarter spurt to put this one away after 36 minutes. Coming off an unconvincing performance against the Knicks in Wednesday’s opener, Toronto got a balanced effort to come away with a rather comfortable win. Andrea Bargnani led with 20 points and Linas Kleiza chipped in 19, five boards and three assists in 27 minutes.
The Raptors had no trouble holding down the offensively-challenged Cavs, who had just two players in double figures and were led by Antawn Jamison’s 13 off the bench. Reggie Evans, who was solid much of the night against New York, held J.J. Hickson, who had 21 in Cleveland’s opening win against Boston, to just six points and six rebounds. Evans also chipped in 14 rebounds in 27 minutes and even managed to score his first two points of the season.
Toronto also got solid performances from twin boys DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, who had 14 and 13, respectively. Leandro Barbosa bounced back from an up-and-down opener to pitch in with 13 points off the bench on 5-of-10 shooting.
It was by no means a challenge, but still nice to get in the win column. With a pair of home games and a 1-1 record under their belts, the Raptors head out west for a four-game swing, with a Monday date win Sacramento getting things underway. They’ll follow that with nightmares against the Lakers, Jazz and Blazers before returning home to face Golden State a week from Monday.