CLEVELAND, Dec. 4 (Ticker) --
After Vince Carter
was scratched due to
food poisoning, the Toronto Raptors' performance in the first
quarter might have made coach Sam Mitchell feel ill.
scored 12 of his 21 points in an explosive
opening quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers built a
21-point lead before holding on for a 105-97 victory over the
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and LeBron James
scored 27 points apiece for the
Cavaliers, who moved into first place in the Central Division
for the first time in four years. Gooden and Ilgauskas
contributed 15 and 13 rebounds, respectively.
"I'd rather be in first than last," James said. "So, it is
important." Toronto closed to 91-90 on Rafer Alston's runner in
the lane with 3:40 remaining, but the Cavaliers put away the
contest with an 8-0 run. James' driving slam-dunk with 2:12 left
made it 95-90. He then assisted on Jeff McInnis
jumpers to seal it at 99-90 with 58 seconds to go.
"The dunk is one of the best momentum changers in the game,"
added James, who had four and shot 10-of-17 from the field.
"We handled them pretty well down the stretch, especially with
LeBron's dunk being the key," Cleveland coach Paul Silas said.
"After that, (Toronto) just couldn't respond."
Mitchell followed through on his threat not to start Loren Woods
and Alston, who angered their coach by picking up technical
fouls late in the third quarter of Friday's 91-89 loss in
Mitchell had further reason to be upset as the Cavaliers shot
15-of-19 from the floor and raced to a 39-18 lead after one
quarter. The Raptors regrouped, closing to 57-48 at
While Toronto shot just 27 percent (13-of-48) from the field in
the first half, it stayed in the game by making all 22 free
throws before the break.
"All this stuff that you read about my relationship with the
players, these guys go out and play hard every night," Mitchell
Woods and Alston entered the game in the later in the first
quarter, but the Raptors never led in the second half. Alston,
who threatened to quit the team, responded to the benching with
20 points and 10 assists.
"Rafer was fine," Mitchell said. "I talked to Rafer yesterday
and he still has me on his Christmas list."
"I responded until the last two minutes," Alston said, referring
to a pair of crucial turnovers. "I appreciate what Sam did for
me and Loren tonight. Twenty-four hours ago I was frustrated.
You don't want to be labeled as a bad guy."
Woods sprained the ring finger on his left hand with 4:50 left
in the second quarter and did not return.
Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Raptors dropped to
1-3 on their six-game road trip.