CLEVELAND — Toronto Raptors' better effort Thursday still wasn't enough against LeBron James and his undefeated Cleveland Cavaliers.
James had a triple double with 23 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds to power the Cavaliers 108-89 past Toronto, sending the Raptors home trailing 2-0 in their Eastern Conference final debut.
The Cavs have yet to lose in 10 post-season games.
DeMar DeRozan topped Toronto with 22 points, while Terrence Ross, Cory Joseph and James Johnson chipped in with 11 points apiece. Raptors all-star guard Kyle Lowry, who was so solid down the stretch of the semifinal series against Miami, had a rough shooting night, en route to just 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting. He was just 1-for-8 from three-point range.
James' big night, meanwhile, propelled him past Shaquille O'Neal for fourth place on the all-time post-season scoring list.
Coming off Tuesday's humiliating 115-84 loss in Game 1, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said the Raptors would have to "out-work and out-scrap" the Cavaliers. They did for the better part of a first half that saw the lead change hands 11 times.
But a woeful final three-and-a-half minutes of the first half proved lethal as Toronto missed nine straight shots to fall behind by 14. They would never make up that ground, and trailed the Cavs 86-69 with one quarter to play.
Cleveland couldn't miss down the stretch and when James threaded a bounce pass to Channing Frye with six minutes to play, the Cavs led by 18. A J.R. Smith three-pointer two minutes later had the home team up by 19, sending fans headed to the exits to beat the traffic.
While the Raptors won two-of-three games versus Cleveland in the regular season, the Cavaliers are the overwhelming favourites to win a series that Charles Barkley described as "guppies versus sharks."
The Quicken Loans Arena, painted in gold "All In" T-shirts, included New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and six-time NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Cavaliers raced out to an eight-point lead and it looked like the Raptors were in for another long night, but a three by Ross capped a 9-0 run that put Toronto in the lead. Cleveland led 30-28 to end the first quarter.
The wheels fell off midway through the second, as the Cavs ended the quarter on a 20-5 run. Cleveland led 62-48 at halftime.
Game 3 is Saturday while Game 4 is Monday at the Air Canada Centre.