The visiting Toronto Raptors will try to extend their season-best winning streak to five games Sunday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who aim to cut their losses at three straight.
The Raptors won four in a row for the first time this season when they eked out a 95-91 road victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday afternoon.
The Raptors have won seven of their past eight games as they make a playoff push, but the game in Detroit was the first of seven of eight on the road.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers lost again Friday night, 136-119 to the host Atlanta Hawks. It followed a 115-109 home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, their first game back from the All-Star break.
“I’m not going to go out and make any excuses,” said Donovan Mitchell, who scored 19 points for Cleveland on Friday. “Everybody can go out and say we played (Thursday) night, but I’m not hearing it.
“We have to continue to build and get better. We just didn’t come out the right way and that’s on us. We all have to take that. We have to find a way to do it. It’s time. It’s that time I was telling you about at the beginning of the year. It’s time to pick it up. We’ve dropped these two. Now we have to go and respond.”
Darius Garland led the Cavaliers with 33 points at Atlanta and Jarrett Allen added 14 points and nine rebounds.
The losing streak follows a run of seven straight victories.
“I don’t think it was so much game plan,” Allen said. “It was an intensity thing. We all feel like we didn’t give it our best effort. I feel like honestly we just weren’t playing with the intensity we should. This was on us (Friday).”
“We didn’t put up much resistance, especially in the first half,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
The Raptors have won all three games against the Cavaliers this season.
Toronto was without Fred VanVleet (personal) for the second game in a row on Saturday.
Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 29 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots against the Pistons.
“We just continue to play together, try to minimize the mistakes and fight through everything,” said Siakam, who scored eight points late in the fourth quarter. “It’s not going to be perfect, but as long as we’re together we’ll help each other on defense.”
The Raptors had a poor shooting game. They shot 37.5 percent (33 of 88) from the field that included 7 of 26 (26.9 percent) from 3-point range. They also finished 64.7 percent on free throws (22 of 34)
“We’re playing pretty solidly at the defensive end with some intensity and some disruptiveness,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We didn’t shoot it very well, we didn’t finish very well, we didn’t shoot free throws very well but I liked how we played. We were getting (the ball) to where it should go about 90 percent of the possessions.”
With a victory in Cleveland, the Raptors can reach the .500 mark for the first time since Dec. 9 when they were 13-13.
“We had a lot of games we could have won and been in a different spot,” Siakam said. “We put ourselves in this situation. That happens in life and we’ve just got to continue to focus on the task ahead.”
–Field Level Media