Raps buzzer-battered

Mike James of the Raptors is grabbed at the waist by Cavs' Drew Gooden last night at the ACC. The...

Mike James of the Raptors is grabbed at the waist by Cavs' Drew Gooden last night at the ACC. The Raps lost another heartbreaker, 98-97, on a last-second three-pointer. (Toronto Sun/Ernest Doroszuk)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

It was all Mike James' fault.

Just ask him.

"This 'L' right here, I put it on myself," the Raptors point guard said after his defensive gaffe led directly to a heart-breaking 98-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night at the Air Canada Centre.

"I let my teammates down at the end of the game."

A buzzer-beating three by long-range specialist Damon Jones -- left wide-open after James left his man to join two other teammates trying to stop a LeBron James drive -- gave the Cavs a sweep in a home-and-home series and handed the Raptors yet another tough loss.

With the Raptors up by two following a dramatic three-pointer by Morris Peterson with just 4.8 seconds left, James shouldn't have even considered giving Jones any sort of look to win the game.

But after he came over to help on James, he slipped and Jones didn't have a Raptor anywhere close to him.

So composed and so good all game, James was left holding his hands over his face while lying on the court as the Cavs celebrated an improbable win in front of the first sellout crowd of 19,800.

"I tried to pray for the shot to miss and that thing hit the bottom of the net," James said. "I told my teammates when I came back in here, I apologized to all of them because that was my fault. They say you don't win or lose on one play. But the last shot that should have been taken that went in should have been from Mo Pete."

It looked like the Raps actually were going to win one down the stretch. Chris Bosh grabbed an offensive rebound and fed it back to Peterson, who performed his usual three-point heroics in crunch time. He is the best three-point shooter in the league in the last two minutes.

The Cavs then called timeout. Peterson was responsible for King James. Bosh came over to help and so, too, did James.

"It was tough," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "It's nothing to even talk about. LeBron made a great play, he found the open guy and Damon Jones hit the shot. We got the matchups we wanted. We wanted Mo on LeBron and he made a good play."

It was the eighth loss in the past nine games for the Raptors, who led by six with less than two minutes left but couldn't seal the deal. Peterson, who never stops working, scored a team-leading 31 points in 47 minutes while James had 30.

Bosh, after a rare scoreless first half -- the first time that has happened since Dec. 19, 2004 -- netted 15.

James scored a game-high 35 points, including two highlight-reel dunks, but it was his last of sixth assists that loomed so much larger.

The game went back and forth in the first three quarters. The Raptors went on a 20-2 run to end the first quarter with a 28-19 lead, but the Cavs responded by outscoring Toronto 31-14 to go up 50-42 at halftime. The Raptors led 73-70 after a strong third quarter.

Raptors centre Antonio Davis missed his fifth game in a row with a sprained back. Rafael Araujo, coming off a right shoulder injury, dressed but did not play.

---

REPORT CARD

B Offence: The Raptors' franchise-record streak of hitting 100 points at home ended at eight games, but they put themselves in position to win. They lost, again, because of defence.

D Defence: It all came down to one play and Mike James messed up. Just can't happen.


Photos