TORONTO — On the first possession of the second half, Toronto Raptors live wire Pascal Siakam was working in the post against Cleveland Cavaliers center Larry Nance Jr. Moments later, Nance was holding a piece of his tooth in the palm of his hand, angrily tossing it on the Scotiabank Arena floor near the Cavs bench.
Siakam plowed into him and knocked it out. Only Nance was the one whistled for a foul.
“It wasn’t intentional,” Nance said following the 126-110 loss. “But I did catch a vicious shoulder or elbow to the mouth and apparently my chin fouled him.”
Nance was in a surly mood Friday night. It wasn’t the defeat that stung the most. It was his mouth, clearly sore and annoyed about the eventual dental work. Nance said he would’ve been even more heated if it was one of his front teeth, but is somewhat relieved it was one at the bottom and is not really visible.
Even after the nasty collision on Friday night and Nance’s energetic style that leads to plenty of contact, he told cleveland.com there are no plans to wear a mouthguard like teammates Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.
Love is a spokesman for Shock Doctor and can probably hook his teammate up with a sweet deal. Thompson wears one after his front tooth got popped out last season and needed braces.
Nance, however, said he would have problems breathing if he went that direction. So he will keep playing without one.
It didn’t keep Nance from another terrific performance, helping the Cavs fill Thompson’s void and giving head coach Larry Drew plenty to ponder with his lineup when Thompson returns from a foot injury.
For the third straight game, coinciding with a move into the starting center spot, Nance recorded a double-double. It matches the longest streak of his career, which happened in early March with the Cavaliers last season.
After the game, teammate Cedi Osman raved about Nance’s growth on the offensive end. The 6-foot-9 point-center is second on the team in assists, averaging 3.2 and has become Cleveland’s offensive centerpiece, often initiating from the top of the key, elbow or in the post.
When the Cavs’ offense started to stall in the fourth quarter, falling into old habits and being flummoxed by Toronto’s zone, it was Nance that started directing traffic, just as he did Tuesday night against Indiana.
“I’m still working on those skills, still trying to find them and I wouldn’t say I’m a natural point guard,” he said ecently. “I definitely pride myself on my IQ and the way I can see the game.
“Something that we have been working on and kind of showing flashes of for a good little while now. Something I’m comfortable doing and something our team is comfortable in allowing me to do.”
Nance matched his season-high with 16 points to go with 12 rebounds. He added two assists, two blocks and one steal.
Fair to say he left it all out on the floor Friday night. Part of his tooth included.