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 (Thursday, PHL time) 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.
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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.
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.
“I felt good,” Leonard said. “I’m happy we came out and got a win. I came out of the game healthy, so it’s a win-win for me.”
Leonard added six more points in the second quarter and Lowry had five as Toronto made 5-of-10 from three-point range to open a 60-47 lead at halftime.
“It’s one game,” Leonard said. “I can only see what’s in front of me right now, so it’s not that I’m looking back saying I want to get back to that level, it’s about right now and what I need to do to be the best player for the Raptors. That’s what my focus is.”
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