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Total Team Effort Helps Raptors Drop Cavaliers

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January 5, 2011

CLEVELAND (CP) -- Byron Scott expected the Cavaliers to have some rough patches. Cleveland's first-year coach never imagined things would only get worse.

The Cavaliers are sliding and Scott doesn't know how to stop them.

Lacking any defensive intensity, the Cavaliers lost their eight straight game on Wednesday night, thumped 120-105 by the Toronto Raptors, who snapped an 11-game losing streak in Cleveland and dropped the getting-worse-by-the-day Cavs to 1-18 since Nov. 27.

``Every time I think we're taking a step forward, we're taking two steps back,'' Scott said. ``That's frustrating for any coach.''

Andrea Bargnani scored 25 points, Leandro Barbosa added 22 points and Jose Calderon had a season-high 17 assists as the Raptors snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the fourth time in 16 games. Calderon, back after missing one game with a sprained ankle, added 20 points and Julian Wright had 15 points for Toronto.

The Raptors trailed by 15 points in the first quarter, but had little trouble coming back against a Cleveland team going through the motions.

``We just didn't guard tonight, anybody,'' Scott said. ``We've got to do a better job.

``We've got to take it personal. When you're one on one with a guy, it's got to be personal. Sometimes when those guys scored, it didn't hurt. It's got to hurt.''

Antawn Jamison scored 32 points for Cleveland, which was outscored 94-69 over the final three quarters.

The Raptors were beaten by 20 points in Chicago on Tuesday, but found just the thing to get them back on track -- a trip to Cleveland.

Despite falling behind by 12 points after the first quarter, the Raptors had no trouble bouncing back against the lowly Cavs, who now have an eight-game slide to go with a 10-gamer this season. It could get much worse for Cleveland, which begins a five-game road trip at Golden State on Friday.

``Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,'' Jamsion said. ``We need to find a cure soon.''

The Cavs were lifeless, and Scott was exasperated by their poor effort on defence. It didn't help that he was shorthanded after benching forward J.J. Hickson, who skipped a mandatory practice Monday and didn't offer any excuse for his absence.

``It's in the past,'' Hickson said. ``Hopefully, it's just going to be for one game.''

Toronto's only scare in the fourth came when DeMar DeRozan lost his balance after missing a layup, fell and banged the back of his head on the floor. Several teammates ran over to check on him, but after a few moments, DeRozan walked to the bench without assistance and remained in the game.

Soon after, he scored nine consecutive points as the Raptors built a 105-90 lead.

Jamison's three-pointer got the Cavs within 10, but Bargnani hit a jumper from the corner and Calderon dropped a three-pointer to make it 110-95 with 5:57 left.

Calderon injured his ankle Sunday when Boston's Shaquille O'Neal stepped on him. He was excited to play again, and it showed.

``I was ready for this one,'' Calderon said. ``I really concentrated. It doesn't matter how we played, this is a game we had to win. Everybody contributed. It was a bad first quarter, but after that everybody gave us something.''

After going scoreless in the first, Bargnani, who recently missed four games with a strained calf, scored 14 points n the second when the Raptors put up 40 points, erasing Cleveland's lead and opening a 66-63 half-time lead.

Bargnani scored Toronto's first nine points to open the period, and Barbosa went on a personal seven-point streak. Wright's three-point play gave the Raptors their first lead at 50-48.

The Cavs have been hampered by injuries all season, making it tough to establish any rhythm. And just when it looked as if they would be totally healthy for a stretch, they lost starting forward Anthony Parker with what Scott described as ``a back issue.''

Daniel Gibson returned after sitting out two games with a thigh injury, but he sprained his left ankle in the third quarter and didn't return. Cleveland's Anderson Varejao, playing with a protective mask to protect a broken cheekbone, scored four points in 35 minutes.

Jamison scored 12 points in the first quarter, when the Cavs shot 67 per cent (14 of 21) from the field and opened a 15-point lead, but the Raptors made it disappear quickly.

Notes: Scott had no update on Gibson's ankle. ... The Cavs won't be home again until Jan. 19. Cleveland is just 3-15 on the road and has dropped 14 in a row away from home. ... The Raptors waived F Ronald Dupree. He had been re-signed Dec. 26 and appeared in three games.