CLEVELAND -- LeBron James spent a rare night relaxing on the bench, Mo Williams showed why Cleveland traded for him this summer, and the Cavaliers opened their exhibition season with a 104-84 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
James played just 8 minutes in the first quarter before he raised his hand for a substitute and coach Mike Brown pulled his superstar for the remainder of Cleveland's preseason debut.
James, who won an Olympic gold medal this summer at the Beijing Games, missed his only three shots from the field, made one free throw and added two rebounds and two assists.
"It was good to play another team," James said. "We're kind of tired of beating up on each other. We did some good things and some bad things."
The wear and tear on James is a major concern for the Cavaliers. He has had little time away from the floor since last season ended because of his commitment to USA Basketball. Brown intends to reduce James' playing time -- the 23-year-old has been among the league leaders in minutes played throughout his career -- with the idea of keeping him as fresh as possible for the grinding, 82-game schedule and playoffs.
Toronto's Jermaine O'Neal, acquired from Indiana in a July trade, scored 11 points in his Raptors debut. O'Neal missed 40 games last season because of lingering knee problems and dropped weight over the summer to ease the pressure on his joints.
Toronto's reserves outplayed Cleveland's during the second half, when the Raptors outscored the Cavs 57-37.
"We've got a lot of work to do, it's the first preseason game," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "We got better as the game progressed. We made a lot of mistakes defensivley, especially in that first quarter. You can't give up 28 points in the first quarter. We carried out our principles as good as any time we've done it so far in training camp and practice."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 16 points and Williams, acquired in an August trade from Milwaukee, added 12 points, four assists and three rebounds in 26 minutes. The Cavs have craved a point guard for years and feel Williams can fill that void while giving James someone to share the scoring load.
When he had the chance, Williams pushed the ball up the floor and he wasn't shy about directing his teammates.
"It's just great to be here," said Williams, who has been smiling since his arrival in Cleveland. "I think we can do some big things this year."
Brown has tried to cut James' minutes before. However, it's been tough to get him rest in games the Cavs needed to win. James averaged 40.4 minutes per game last season, nearly a half-minute less than in 2006-07. His minutes-per-game average has dropped the past three years, but except for his rookie year (39.5), James has averaged more than 40 minutes per game each season.
Ideally, Brown would like to limit James to 38 this season.
Brown was reminded that he said 40 a week ago.
"I'm going to keep giving you guys different numbers," Brown joked. "I don't have a number that's set. I would love to have it at 38 and under 40 would be great. Anything over 40, and I feel like I have not done my job well."
James was asked is his ideal number was (the maximum) 48?
"Ha," James laughed. "It would be if I could play 48 at a high level. But I think with the team that we have now, and the players we have, I think around the 38 or 40 range, but we'll see how the season goes."