CLEVELAND — For the second time in the last five days, the Toronto Raptors manhandled the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Raptors prevailed on Tuesday night, 99-93, before 13,758 at Quicken Loans Arena, as shooting guard DeMar DeRozan was too much to handle. He fired in 16 of his game-high 33 points in the pivotal fourth quarter.
DeRozan’s biggest play might have come with 31.9 seconds left when his steal led to two free throws for a 96-91 lead.
“I was Richard Sherman tonight, just trying to read (the Cavs offense),” DeRozan said. “I kind of anticipated that (pass).”
Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, a teammate of DeRozan’s on the Eastern Conference All-Star team, contributed 25 points, nine assists and two steals. Irving played 45 minutes, including the entire second half.
“I told Coach I was willing to do whatever it takes,” Irving said. “I’d go out and compete and live with the results. We have to execute a lot better, especially when the ball is in my hands.”
DeRozan converted 12 of 25 from the field, and nine of 13 from the foul line.
The Cavs (22-36) held a two-point advantage, 89-87, with 3:11 to play. From there, however, the Raptors (32-25) outscored them 12-4 down the stretch.
The Cavs’ playoff chances are dwindling with every loss. They are now 4 1/2 games behind eighth-place Atlanta (26-30) for the final playoff spot in the East.
The Raptors’ execution was flawless down the stretch. They outscored the Cavs 31-24 in the fourth quarter and committed just two turnovers.
Forward Terrence Ross added 19 points for the Raptors, including a 5-for-8 performance from behind the arc.
The Cavaliers, who have now lost three in a row, made just 5 of 17 from the 3-point line.
Center Spencer Hawes added 15 points and seven rebounds in his first start for the Cavs. He was traded to Cleveland by Philadelphia last week.
The Cavaliers went with his two 7-footers for much of the fourth quarter. Tyler Zeller was very active with eight points and six rebounds.
The Cavs outrebounded the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors, 43-39, as forwards Tristan Thompson and Luol Deng each had nine.
However, it seemed as if the Raptors got every 50/50 ball. That was an area in which injured center Anderson Varejao excels. He missed his seventh consecutive game with a sore back, and didn’t travel to Oklahoma City after the game.
Toronto, the third seed in the East, also received 13 points and nine assists from point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry, however, had a dreadful night shooting: 3 of 15 from the field, including 0 of 9 from the 3-point arc.
“You can’t let that stop you from helping your team win,” Lowry said.
The game turned into a defensive struggle.
“Every game, for us, is a grind,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “They had just won six in a row and have the All-Star MVP, so for us, we’ve got to come in with the attitude of being a desperate team and a hungry team every time.”
Guard Jarrett Jack added 12 points and four assists for the Cavs, while Thompson had 13 points and guard Matthew Dellavedova 10.
There were two key plays in the fourth quarter, and both went against the Cavs. Zeller was called for a questionable offensive foul with 6:26 to play, while Irving was also called for charging with 1:02 left.
“The refs weren’t why we lost the game,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “It’s stuff we don’t have control over. We have to fight through it and still find a way to win.”
NOTES: C Spencer Hawes made his first start with the Cavaliers. In two games with Cleveland, he averaged 11 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. “Every passing day, the fit is better on both ends of the floor,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. … Cavaliers F Luol Deng said he thinks the Raptors surged since the Rudy Gay trade to Sacramento on Dec. 9. “I think their problem was more of balancing the shots offensively,” Deng said. “I think they figured that out.” … The Cavaliers are missing three of their top eight players: C Anderson Varejao (back), G Dion Waiters (knee) and G/F C.J. Miles (ankle). “We need guys to step up,” Brown said. “That’s part of the evolution of a season.” None of the three players will travel to Oklahoma City on Wednesday. … There are currently nine Canadian players in the NBA. Of course, two of them play for the Cavaliers: F Anthony Bennett and F Tristan Thompson. The others are Joel Anthony, Samuel Dalembert, Cory Joseph, Steve Nash, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk and Robert Sacre. … Raptors F Amir Johnson, bothered by a sore right ankle, remained in the starting lineup.
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