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