Cavaliers 104 Raptors 96
TORONTO — If the Raptors got little else from Wednesday’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto coach Jay Triano said the experience of having to gut it out through a gruelling schedule can only help his young team.
Jerryd Bayless scored 28 points to top Toronto, who lost 104-96 to Cavaliers in a game between two beleaguered teams playing out the storylines on similar seasons.
The Raptors (21-57), who have just four games left on another season without a playoff appearance, battled fatigue in their fourth game in five nights, and were missing the services of Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson.
Welcome to the NBA, said Triano.
“We’re a young team, I thought in the first half our best player was Reggie Evans. Reggie Evans is the most veteran guy we have as well, so he’s the guy who’s been through it before,” Triano said. “We have to challenge them. You’ve got to learn to play in these situations.
“I know you’re tired, it’s four games in five nights. I’m tired, we’re all tired. But this is the point where you suck it up, you go out and you try and compete, and regardless there’s no-one feeling sorry for you.”
J.J. Hickson scored 28 points to lead the Cavs (17-61). Baron Davis added 19 points and 12 assists, while Ramon Sessions chipped in with 15, Ryan Hollins finished with 14, and Alonzo Gee added 10.
“I thought (Davis) was big to start the game, really got us into our offence, got guys easy shots, easy buckets and that go us on a pretty good little roll offensively,” said Cavs coach Byron Scott.
DeMar DeRozan added 19 points, while Evans had a season-high 15 points to go with a game-high 13 rebounds, and Sonny Weems finished with 17.
Both Toronto and Cleveland have struggled to find their identities this season after losing their franchise players. Raptors all-star Chris Bosh and former Cavs superstar LeBron James high-tailed it to the Miami Heat in the off-season in search of an NBA title.
Cleveland was the better of the rebuilding teams Wednesday as the Raptors trailed from the outset, digging themselves a 22-point first-half hole with sluggish shooting and a lacklustre defensive effort. The crowd of 14,886 booed when Gee drove effortlessly to the net for a slam dunk midway through the second quarter.
“It’s been a repeated thing this year, sometimes we just come out and start slow,” Bayless said. “We put ourselves in a 20, 25-point hole in these first halves, it’s tough to come back from that.”
The Cavaliers led 77-64 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Baron Davis controlled the game from start to finish from the point guard spot and made sure everybody got their touches and got Hickson the ball,” Triano said. “Hickson was good and Baron Davis was good, and they ate us up in the first half of the game.”
Toronto briefly made a game of it against the last-place team in the Eastern Conference, pulling within five points on a three-pointer by Weems with just over eight minutes left in the game. But three long jump shots from Davis and a three-pointer from former Raptor Anthony Parker sealed the victory for Cleveland as the Raptors left the court to a smattering of jeers.