Benchmark win

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo has enough successes on his resume in his short time in Toronto that there is no need to gloat about this latest one.

But it had to feel extra good watching a guy he obtained for a pair of second-round draft picks lead his team to a 91-82 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night with his best player in street clothes on the bench.

To date, most of the praise Carlos Delfino -- the guy Colangelo pilfered from the Detroit Pistons for second round picks in 2009 and '10 -- has received in a Toronto uniform has come for his defence and his tenacious work pulling in rebounds.

But last night, with a career- high 24 points, his head coach and teammates alike were extolling his offensive skills for a change.

Delfino, who just never got the floor time in Detroit, was zeroed in last night, making good on nine of 14 shots, including four of seven from three-point range, as the Raps bench outscored the Cavaliers' 32-14.

"It's exciting when you know when the team will need you and how they will need you," said Delfino, whose 14-point second quarter two nights earlier ignited a win over Memphis. "Even if I'm not making my shots, I will go out and play good defence."

In a game that lost a lot of its star power with both Chris Bosh of the Raptors and Cavaliers superstar LeBron James on the bench hurt, Delfino and Andrea Bargnani stepped up in a big way.

Bargnani, who moved into the starting five with Bosh nursing a groin injury, also picked a perfect night to have his best offensive game of the season scoring a team-high 26 points.

"Without (Bosh), there are a lot more shots," Bargnani said. "So we did a good job to take the shots that usually C.B. takes."

Cavs coach Mike Brown credited Delfino for taking advantage of some slow defence on his team's part.

"One of the things we talked about after he hit his first couple was: 'Hey, let's get up into his chest and take away his air space. Make him put the ball on the floor instead of looking down and make him cash those threes,' Brown said.

"We didn't start doing that until late in the game, so he kept them going in that first half when the ball game was close."

The "ball game" never should have been close in that first half with the Raps shooting just under 60% from the field and connecting on six of seven three-point attempts.

But the Cavs played a scrappy game, hanging around despite not having the guy who is leading the league with 30.7 points a night -- not to mention a team-high 8.1 assists. He sprained a finger on Wednesday night.

Point guard T.J. Ford, meanwhile, returned to action after a four-game absence. Ford, still playing with his left thumb bandaged, was not in his normal scoring mode, but did contribute 17 minutes and six assists. That allowed Jose Calderon, who had been averaging close to 40 minutes a night the previous four games, to play a more economical 31.

"We just told him to try to get everybody going and just see how he feels," head coach Sam Mitchell said of Ford. "You know, you could tell he was rusty. He has only had one practice since he's been out ... but he did what he needed to do."

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REPLAY

TURNING POINT

The Cavs got the deficit down to three points early in the third quarter before the Raptors hit for nine unanswered points, five of those by Andrea Bargnani, to restore a healthy lead. The Cavs never got closer than six the rest of the evening.

INSERT NAME HERE

Jamario Moon wants a nickname and Raps broadcaster Chuck Swirsky is going to help. Swirsky has a long list of selections he has been e-mailed and was to go over them with Moon on the flight to Washington, last night. He will post Moon's favourite five on Raptors.com and then let the fans pick. For the record Moon's favourite nickname to date is Moonshine, which he picked up playing with the Gary Steelheads of the USBL.

ADDED HEIGHT

Maceo Baston replaced Darrick Martin on the active list. But with starting centre Rasho Nesterovic playing a season-high 33 minutes, Baston didn't get off the bench.


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