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LeBron Masterclass leaves Toronto clinging



By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) – Cleveland Cavaliers striker LeBron James delivered a masterclass on Thursday, asking the discouraged Toronto Raptors if they could do anything to slow down the game's biggest player.

So dominant was the three-time NBA champion, who at times showed an impressive performance in the second half of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. It almost looked like he was experimenting with difficult shots.

"It drains you mentally and physically," Toronto coach Dwane Casey told reporters.

"He had one of those nights, but we have to move the scoreboard on the other end as much as possible."

James scored a game-high 43 points to give the Cavaliers a 128-110 win over the Raptors and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Cleveland for the next two games.

It was an all too familiar script for a Toronto team that has been EL out of the NBA playoffs the last two years through the hands of James and the Cavaliers, including a four-game sweep in last season's conference semifinals.

This Toronto team had higher hopes to overcome their recent playoff defeats, though, having changed their approach this season with a more balanced attack and an effective bank that had helped them in the Eastern Conference frontrunners to become.

Toronto faces a difficult task in Cleveland, where it will be 0-0 in the postseason, hoping for a win on Saturday, as no NBA team will face a 0-3 in a best-of-seven playoff. Series has recovered.

"We live in distress, every single one in this team," said Raptors DeMar DeRozan, who had a team-high 24 points.

"We've been in difficult situations before, and, you know, sometimes, when you get into difficult situations, that brings out the best in you, and that's what we are now."

The Raptors got one after another a neat start and a lead of nine points in the second quarter, they also fought off defensively and limped in the first half only two points ahead of a team of Cavaliers that smelled blood.

Cleveland opened the second half with a 18-5 run and never looked back when they stepped on the Raptors neck to take complete control of the series.

James said that he and his team-mate were not going to get complacent, even if they drive home with a comfortable series-run.

"We will not be on guard, I do not want that, it will spread to everyone else," said James, who also had 14 assists eight rebounds.

"We are not satisfied, we played good basketball up here and are looking forward to another challenge."

(Report by Frank Pingue, Edited by Nick Mulvenney)


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