Newcomer Leonard leads Raptors past Cavaliers
TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and a team-high 13 rebounds in his Toronto debut, Kyle Lowry scored 27 points and the Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-104 on Wednesday night in the season-opener for both teams.
Fred VanVleet scored 14 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 and Danny Green 11 as the Raptors won their sixth straight season opener and gave Nick Nurse a victory in his first game as head coach.
Kevin Love scored 21 points and Cedi Osman had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Cleveland knocked Toronto out of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but faces a struggle this season now that former star LeBron James is with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Leonard played 37 minutes in his first competitive game since January with San Antonio. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year was limited to nine games last season because of a quadriceps injury.
Acquired from the Spurs in a July blockbuster that sent four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, Leonard was introduced to a thunderous ovation, the final Raptors starter to have his name announced to the capacity crowd of 19,915.
Lowry led Toronto with eight assists and shot 5-for-6 from 3-point range.
Jordan Clarkson and George Hill each scored 15 points and Rodney Hood had 12 for the Cavaliers, who trailed by as many as 20.
Cleveland had won 15 of the previous 17 meetings between the teams, including 10 straight postseason games.
Leonard missed his first three shot attempts but made three of his next four to score a team-high six points in the opening quarter. Lowry and Siakam each scored five in the first as Toronto led 28-25 after one.
Leonard added six more points in the second quarter and Lowry had five as Toronto made five of 10 from 3-point range to open a 60-47 lead at halftime.
Lowry and Leonard each scored nine points in the third, with Lowry making three from long range, as Toronto took a 90-75 lead into the fourth.
Cavaliers: F Larry Nancy Jr. (right ankle) and G J.R. Smith (right elbow) were inactive. … Love shot 5 for 18 from the field and went 10 for 14 at the free throw line. … Tristan Thomspon led Cleveland with 13 rebounds.
Raptors: Leonard shot 9 for 22. … G Delon Wright (left thigh) was inactive. . … F OG Anunoby did not retrun after being hit in the face early in the fourth. The Raptors said Anunoby suffered a right orbital contusion. … Siakam got the opening night start ahead of Serge Ibaka, but Nurse has said he intends to vary his starting lineup on a regular basis. … Ibaka missed his first eight field goal attempts before connecting on a 3 in the fourth. … Valanciunas had 12 rebounds and matched a career-high with three assists. … Green stood at center court and thanked fans for their support in a brief pregame address.
Cavaliers: Visit Minnesota on Friday night.
Raptors: Host Boston on Friday night.
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