CLEVELAND -- The Cavaliers crowned the Raptors last night, even though King James was off his game.
His loyal subjects, however, rose to the occasion.
Cavs superstar LeBron James, averaging 31 points per game this season, managed just 17 points last night, shooting 5-for-17 from the field. Despite that, the Cavaliers held off a late charge by Toronto to defeat the Raptors 106-99 at the Quicken Loans Arena.
James, guarded most of the night by Morris Peterson, and whomever else was in the vicinity, was actually outplayed by his namesake on the Raptors. Mike James demonstrated immense leadership skills and a killer instinct by almost single-handedly leading the Raptors back into the game, even though they were down by as much as 16 points in the third quarter and 10 at the start of the fourth. He scored 31 points, 15 in the fourth quarter, and recorded eight assists.
During timeouts in the fourth, the first-year Raptor could be heard screaming at his teammates in an effort to keep a fourth-quarter rally alive. But it wasn't enough, as the Raptors scratched back to get within two with five minutes left, but then allowed Le-Bron James and Flip Murray to take control for Cleveland.
"The only thing you can depend on to win games is defence ... that's where you win or lose," Mike James said.
Chris Bosh had another big game, scoring 28 points with six rebounds, but he missed six straight free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, and that had dire consequences.
Matt Bonner had his third strong game coming off the bench, shooting 6-for-9 for 15 points.
But the fact the Raptors exhausted so much energy guarding LeBron James proved to be their downfall, as all five Cleveland starters scored 14 points or better, with Murray picking 24 and Eric Snow adding 14 with 11 assists. The Cavaliers out-rebounded Toronto 42-36 and James added 12 rebounds and eight assists to his 17 points.
"He did other things well (other than scoring) and his team stepped up," Mike James said of his namesake. "They knocked down shots for him when he found them open."
Mitchell has started Eric Williams the past three games, and last night the veteran's difficulties continued, as he picked up his fourth foul after playing only nine minutes, and left the game early in the third quarter, having picked up only one rebound with zero points.
But with veteran centre Antonio Davis out with a sore back and Loren Woods and Rafael Araujo not exactly playing top ball, the coach doesn't have many options.
The Raps, falling to 21-39, face the 35-26 Cavs again tonight at the Air Canada Centre.