Final Dime: Cavaliers 113, Raptors 101
Mo Williams finished with 14 points and 12 assists in Tuesday's win.
David Liam Kyle
Toronto came into Tuesday’s matchup from the opposite direction – desperately needing wins to stave off the streaking Bulls for the eighth and final playoff spot. But once Chris Bosh went down with a facial injury early in the contest, the Raptors never recovered.
The Cavaliers looked as sharp as they have in recent weeks – dissecting Toronto’s defense with a season-high 40 assists and featuring seven players in double-digits.
For Toronto, Bosh took an inadvertent elbow from Antawn Jamison just over two minutes into the affair. The Raptors star went down in a heap and was bleeding badly. He was taken to Cleveland Clinic after leaving the floor.
Bosh’s squad, which quickly improved their early lead to six, seemed to lose steam shortly thereafter. The Cavaliers tied the game at 18, improved their edge to nine – 35-26 – after one quarter and never looked back.
"We just have to keep trying to get better and keep trying to continue to build on that edge that we have," said Mike Brown. "No matter who plays, hopefully, we can continue to use these games as high-level practice games because I think it will help us down the stretch."
Antawn Jamison led the Cavaliers with 20 points, going 10-for-18 from the floor.
The dynamic duo of LeBron James and Mo Williams combined for 25 of the Cavaliers’ 40 assists – adding 19 and 14 points, respectively.
LeBron was 5-of-13 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the stripe, leading both clubs with 13 assists to go with six boards and a block. Mo was 6-for-9 from the floor, notching a season-high 12 assists to go with 14 points in Tuesday’s win.
"We’re going to continue to get better regardless if guys decide to sit out," asserted James. "We have veteran guys who’ve stepped in to play, and we’ve had enough injuries this season that guys know how to adjust to that. Win, lose or draw, want to continue to get better."
There was question as to how many minutes Mike Brown might play his men with the top record secured. But, among the starters, only J.J. Hickson played less than 30 minutes. He and Anthony Parker both tallied double-figures, with Parker playing possibly his best all-around game of the season – finishing with 18 points, eight boards and six assists.
Cleveland got solid production off the bench. Jawad Williams and Anderson Varejao went a combined 10-for-15 from the floor. Williams was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and finished with 13 points and five boards. In his first game back from a hamstring injury, the Wild Thing was 5-of-7 from the field for 10 points.
The Wine and Gold shot 56 percent as a team – including 40 percent from long-distance and 79 percent from the stripe. Cleveland committed just 10 turnovers as a team and won the fastbreak battle, 21-11.
The Cavaliers have just four more games remaining in the regular season, beginning with Thursday night’s showdown in Chicago. The Cavaliers play two at The Q over the weekend before closing out the campaign next Wednesday in Atlanta.
2. Anderson Varejao returned to the rotation after missing the last three games with a sore left hamstring. But while Andy returned, Delonte West was a late scratch because of lower back spasms. It was a precautionary move to rest Delonte.
3. Before Tuesday’s contest, Jamario Moon was announced as the 2009-10 Austin Carr Good Guy Award winner – presented by the local chapter of the Pro Basketball Writers Association (PBWA). The affable journeyman joined previous winners Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Damon Jones, Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes.
4. The Cavaliers have completely dominated the Raptors at The Q since 2004-05 – winning their 11th straight total home domination. In those contests, the Cavaliers are outscoring Toronto, 105.4-94.3.
5. With Tuesday's victory, the Cavaliers became the first team since the 1995-96 and 1996-97 Bulls to post the best record in the regular season in consecutive years.
6. Chris Bosh – who came into Tuesday’s game having gone 20, 10 in his last four contests – left the game with 9:52 remaining in the first quarter, bleeding from his mouth and nose. He was immediately taken to the Cleveland Clinic for a CT scan.
7. After hitting rough patch, Mo Williams has rounded back into All-Star form. Over his last four games, Mo is averaging 19.0 points on .609 shooting. His 12 assists were a season high.
8. Anthony Parker had his best floor game of the season against his former club. In 33 minutes of action, the former Euroleague MVP was 7-of-12 from the floor – 3-of-6 from beyond the arc – tying season-highs with eight boards and six assists to go with a game-high three steals.
9. Cleveland continues to be one of the league’s best bounce-back team in 2009-10 – improving to 13-4 following a loss.
10. LeBron continues to put the finishing touches on his second straight MVP season. Number 23 netted 13 more assists on Tuesday night. His 8.5 assists season average has never been achieved by a forward in NBA history. Larry Bird has the highest all-time mark – 7.6 apg in 1986-87.