TORONTO — Late in the third quarter Monday night, Norman Powell stretched way behind his head to connect on an alley-oop dunk from Pascal Siakam. It was Powell's punctuation mark on another excellent outing by the Raptors guard known for his inconsistency.
Powell scored 16 of his 26 points in the third quarter, while Siakam finished with 33 points, and the Raptors cruised by the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers 133-113.
"(The ball) was kind of behind me, we were joking about it — it felt good to have a little juice in the legs still," Powell said.
"Everybody was talking about how I was laying it up last game, and (his dunk vs. Brooklyn) wasn't a full-blown windmill," he added with a laugh. "So it was good to show that I've still got the bounce."
Kyle Lowry notched the 110th double-double of his career with 20 points and 11 assists, pulling into a tie with Antonio Davis for third on the Raptors' all-time list. Serge Ibaka added 14 points, while OG Anunoby chipped in with 12 for the Raptors (18-8), who were playing without injured guard Fred VanVleet for the fourth consecutive night.
Powell also had six rebounds, five assists, four steals and zero turnovers, and has scored 20-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
It's always been tough to tell what Powell would contribute on any given night. Suddenly he's Mr. Reliable.
"Great stretch right now," Lowry said of the fifth-year guard. "He's shooting the ball confidently, pushing it in transition. I think he's understanding how to play in transition a lot better now, and what we need from him."
Collin Sexton had 25 points to top the Cavaliers (6-21), who've won just once in 11 games. Tristan Thompson of Brampton, Ont., finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
The Cleveland squad that dispatched Toronto in ugly fashion in three consecutive post-seasons used to be an exciting draw in Toronto. But with their former star LeBron James now in Los Angeles, the Cavs are one of the worst teams in the league, third-last in defence, and fourth-last on the offensive end.
The Raptors had their way with the Cavs on Monday. They assembled an 18-point lead in the first half and stretched it to 104-84 by the end of the third quarter, thanks in large part to Powell, who provided a big spark on what would have otherwise been a humdrum affair for the 19,800 fans at Scotiabank Arena.
"In the open floor he's being decisive and putting the jets on and going to the rim and he's finishing," coach Nick Nurse said. "I think a few games ago he was looking around, trying to figure out where to go, who to throw it to and wasn't making the right decision all the time.
"What I like is the speed at which he sees the open floor and goes for it. Reminiscent of a few years ago."
Darius Garland's three-pointer sliced Toronto's lead to 11 with 4:32 to play, but that was as close as the visitors would come.
"They're just a really good team and certainly a better team than us tonight," said Cavs coach John Beilein.
Lowry thought he'd posted a double-double, but officials erased one of his assists. The veteran guard finally got his 10th assist on the night with a pass to Ibaka for a jump shot with 2:24 to play. Chris Bosh leads the all-time Raptors list for double-doubles with 239, followed by Jonas Valanciunas (137).
Toronto trailed for just the first minute Monday, and when Anunoby scooped up the ball from a Powell block and launched a long pass to a sprinting Siakam, who finished with an easy basket, it put Toronto up by 10. The Raptors stretched it to 18 points on a Patrick McCaw three-pointer, but the Cavs closed the quarter with a 10-0 run and Toronto led 37-29 heading into the second.
The Raptors maintained a double-digit lead in the second. Midway through the quarter, Gasol grabbed one of Cleveland's turnovers, found McCaw heading toward the hoop with Jordan Clarkson in hot pursuit. McCaw flicked a backwards bounce pass to Powell for an easy dunk. The Raptors went into the third with a 66-54.
The Raptors visit Detroit on Wednesday then return home to host Washington on Friday then Dallas on Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2019.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press