The Cleveland Cavaliers broke a three-game slump against the Toronto Raptors last night, 116-112, but the victory came at a huge cost.
Towards the end of the opening quarter, J.R. Smith appeared to have hyperextended his left knee, which was already sore entering the game, after landing awkwardly upon scoring on a floater.
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Smith was forced to exit the game immediately and did not return, leaving the Cavs without their best perimeter defender, as coach Tyronn Lue once described his starting shooting guard.
In his absence, an unlikely Cavalier sprung out of nowhere, did damage on the Raptors, and caught LeBron James’ attention in DeAndre Liggins.
LeBron James tells @FOXSportsOH: "Game ball goes to DeAndre Liggins," for solid job Liggins did of filling in for injured JR Smith. #Cavs
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) December 6, 2016
Kenny Honaker ·
Tomer Azarly ·
In 21 minutes, the 2015-2016 D-League Defensive Player of the Year tallied five points and five rebounds. But most importantly, he was the pesky shadow to the Raptors’ prolific backcourt. Liggins’ impact went beyond the traditional stats as Cleveland outscored Toronto by 11 points whenever he was on the floor.
DeAndre Liggins will get another chance to impress when the Cavs travel to New York to face the Knicks on Wednesday night.