TORONTO, April 20 (Ticker) --
With a postseason berth on the line,
did all he could but change the out-of-town scoreboard.
James fell a rebound shy of a triple-double in the first half,
picked it up early in the third quarter and finished with 27
points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 104-95 victory over
the Toronto Raptors.
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Despite his effort, James was left to watch the scoreboard as
the New Jersey Nets, who needed to lose in Boston for the
Cavaliers to reach the playoffs for the first time in seven
years, held on for a 102-93 win over the Celtics.
Cleveland and New Jersey both finished 42-40. The Nets earned
the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by winning three
of four meetings between the teams.
Thus ended a miserable second half of the season for Cleveland,
which was 10-19 after the All-Star break and went from one-time
Central Division contenders to also-rans.
"Being ahead of the Central Division for a couple of months and
then just falling, the coach getting fired, and new ownership,
and guys getting hurt, it's very disappointing," James said.
James had 14 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds at halftime
and grabbed his 10th rebound just seconds into the third quarter
to record his fourth career triple-double.
The 20-year-old superstar buried two 3-pointers to highlight a
9-0 run midway through the period, giving the Cavaliers their
largest lead at 78-49. He finished with 14 rebounds and 14
"That was something tonight that I wanted to put us in a
position to win," James said. "I thought I did that and we
needed some help that we didn't get. I take full credit, I am
the leader of this team. We didn't make the playoffs, so that's
"You just have to come back next year with a sense of urgency
and just don't take things for granted early on in the season
that might come back and get you."
The Cavaliers likely will take little solace from a seven-game
improvement from last season and their first winning campaign
since 1997-98, the last season they made the playoffs.
scored a season-high 20 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas
matched him for Cleveland, which defeated Boston on Tuesday
against the same set of second-stringers the Celtics threw at
"It's hard to put into words how much it (stinks) to be in the
situation we are in right now," said Ilgauskas, who was a rookie
on the Cavaliers' last playoff team in 1998.
"We have to look not only at the games that were lost coming up
to the end, but also we let some games slip away throughout the
season. That should be the lesson that we learn, that every
game is important. The New York game (a home loss Thursday) was
the back-breaker and really set us back."
Cleveland was kept informed on the bench of the score in the New
"We were conscious of the score the whole game and it was
definitely disappointing coming down the stretch of this game
when we learned the score," Newble said.
scored 25 points for the Raptors, who lost their last
four home games and finished 33-49 for the second straight
"Obviously we are disappointed in not going to the playoffs
because that was one of our goals," Rose said.
"We all have to look in the mirror over the summer and decide
how to get better and come back next year ready to make the
playoffs," said Morris Peterson
, who had 16 points and nine
, who was signed by the Raptors to a 10-day contract
April 9, recorded a career-high 19 points with nine assists off
"I think he has some potential," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell
said. "He played against a team that had to win the game, so it
wasn't a meaningless game, and I thought he played well."