Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/4

Game 1: Saturday, December 4th
Game 2: Tuesday, February 8th
Game 3: Sunday, March 20th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 20th

Raptors 97

(7-12, 2-10 away)

Cavaliers 105

(11-6, 7-1 home)

Coverage: FSOH

7:30 PM ET, December 4, 2004

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

1 2 3 4 T
TOR 18 30 26 2397
CLE 39 18 25 23105

Top Performers

Toronto: R. Alston 20 Pts, 2 Reb, 10 Ast, 4 Stl

Cleveland: L. James 27 Pts, 6 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

James, Gooden score 27 each in Cavs' win

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Everyone on Toronto's embittered bench had a nice view of LeBron James' jaw-dropping dunk. Back in his hotel room, an ailing Vince Carter probably even got to see a replay of it.

James scored 27 points, his final field goal coming on a ferocious dunk over Chris Bosh that sent the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 105-97 win Saturday night over the bickering Raptors.

"He didn't care who was in there," Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said of James' jam. "That was pretty awesome."

Drew Gooden added 27 points with 15 rebounds and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 21 and 13 for the first-place Cavaliers, who made their final four shots and their last six free throws in the final three minutes.

But it was' James' dunk with 2:12 left that put Toronto away.

"That took the life out of them," Gooden said. "I knew he was going to dunk it. What did you think he was going to do?"

Cleveland, which won its seventh straight home game, entered the night tied with Indiana atop the NBA's Central Division. The Cavaliers are in first place for the first time since Dec. 19, 2000.

It's still early in the season, but James likes his team's lofty status.

"I'd rather be in first than last," said James, who added 10 assists and six rebounds. "It's good to get off to such a good start."

The Raptors played without Carter, who came down with food poisoning shortly after the club arrived from Boston. Carter didn't come to Gund Arena to watch as his teammates tried to regroup one night after coach Sam Mitchell benched Rafer Alston and Loren Woods during the second half in Boston for picking up costly technical fouls.

Mitchell didn't start the pair, using Milt Palacio and Jerome Moiso instead. Alston led the Raptors with 20 points and 10 assists but had six turnovers. Rookie Matt Bonner had a season-high 17 points, and Morris Peterson 16.

After Friday's benching, an upset and angry Alston threatened to leave the Raptors. But he and Mitchell have patched things up.

"He still has me on his Christmas list," Mitchell joked. "He's not on mine because he makes a lot more money than I do. Whatever happened on Friday night is unfortunate, but it's over."

Alston, too, said he has put the matter behind him.

"I'm not a guy who is going to quit," Alston said. "No matter what I say off the court, I'm a player. You don't want to be labeled a bad guy. I'm still upset a little bit."

Although they trailed throughout, the Raptors were within 91-90 on Alston's floater with 3:40 left. Gooden then scored on a layup before Toronto turned it over on consecutive possessions.

On the left wing matched up against Lamond Murray, James drove to the middle of the lane, cocked his right arm and dunked over Bosh, putting the Cavaliers ahead by five.

"Attack," James said when asked of his intentions before liftoff. "It's about attacking, and that's what I did."

Jeff McInnis and Ilgauskas then made short jumpers as Cleveland opened a 99-90 lead.

The Raptors opened the third quarter with an 11-4 spurt to get within 61-59 on Alston's basket. But Robert Traylor scored on a tip-in, blocked a Toronto shot underneath to set up Ira Newble's layup and made a nice touch pass in the lane for Gooden, whose dunk made it 67-59.

James, who was scoreless and had forced a couple bad shots in the period, then got free for a pair of crowd-pleasing jams to cap a 15-6 run that put the Cavs up 76-65.

Against a Raptors' lineup missing three starters, the Cavaliers played their best quarter of the season in the first, shooting 79 percent and opening a 39-18 lead. James, Gooden and Ilgauskas shot a combined 13-for-13 in the period, accumulating 32 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

With Cleveland's first unit out, the Raptors, who trailed by 23 early in the second quarter, got back in it at the free-throw line, making all 22 attempts in the first half.

Game notes

Woods dislocated his left ring finger in the second quarter. X-rays were negative but he didn't return. ... Mitchell, off to a rocky start in his first season as Toronto's coach, isn't worried about a team uprising. "I feel 100 percent that I have respect in that locker room," he said. ... Cleveland had a season-high 32 assists.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 97 105
FGM-FGA 33-89 (.371) 39-78 (.500)
3PM-3PA 6-13 (.462) 3-10 (.300)
FTM-FTA 25-26 (.962) 24-31 (.774)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-44 12-48
Assists 20 32
Turnovers 17 17
Steals 10 9
Blocks 3 5
Fast Break Points 14 22
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (0/0) 21 (2/0)
Largest Lead 0 23

Top Performers

Rafer Alston Alston
Points: 20
Reb: 2
Ast: 10
Stl: 4
Blk: 0
LeBron James James
Points: 27
Reb: 6
Ast: 10
Stl: 2
Blk: 1