Bosh: Slow road back

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 7:04 AM ET

CLEVELAND -- As his teammates lined up at the post-game buffet table, Raptors forward Chris Bosh sat in the corner of the visiting team's locker room, ice taped to both knees, his feet soaking in a bucket of ice water.

"It feels like my feet are on fire," said a dejected Bosh, to no one in particular.

Last night's 90-83 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Quicken Loans Arena represented only the second game back for Bosh since a 10-game hiatus with a sore right knee.

And while his heart was certainly in it, his game-shape and the strength in his legs isn't quite where it should be, as evidenced by his 7-for-18 shooting. Bosh did finish with 24 points and six rebounds, plus three steals. But against an explosive team such as the Cavaliers, the Raptors needed Bosh firing on all cylinders.

"I almost have my legs back," Bosh said. "I'll eventually start knocking down some shots. Against the Miami Heat (last Wednesday, where he shot 2-for-10), I was short in every shot. This time, it was just a little bit long. I just know I have to get my legs into it a little bit, get the high arc and get some shots."

It didn't help having Cavaliers' centre Anderson Varejao guard him for much of the night. The Brazilian has given Bosh fits in the past, and did so again.

"He's a slick dude, but I'm starting to figure him out," Bosh said. "I'd love to see him again. He's a good defensive player, he's a good rebounder. And you really have to think two steps ahead when you're playing him, because if you think you're just going to put your head down and go, he can beat you to that spot. And the referees know he's trying to take charges."

When Bosh said he'd love to see Varejao again, he means in the post season. The Cavaliers and Raptors could yet meet in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and, despite going 1-3 against the Cavaliers this year, Bosh and his mates feel that they could win a series against Cleveland.

The Raptors certainly weren't blown out of the water at the Q, arguably the loudest arena in the NBA. Thanks largely to the efforts of starting shooting guard Anthony Parker, the Raptors did a solid job containing Cleveland superstar LeBron James. The NBA's leading scorer managed all of six points in the first half, although he did finish with 29 points, to go with 12 rebounds and five assists.

It was their shooting that let the Raptors down. They got excellent looks most of the night, but could not make enough of them, shooting just under 40% from the field. Toronto also was out-rebounded, 51-35. The Cavs had seven offensive boards in the fourth quarter alone.

"Yeah, (James) hit some shots. But I liked the way we played," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "We got some great looks against this team. I mean great. But it's hard to win any time you shoot 39%."

If the Raptors and Cavaliers do meet in the opening round, the series could be a dandy. The lead changed 14 times in last night's contest, with Cleveland going ahead for the final time with 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 16-foot jump shot by Devin Brown.

"That's two games in a row when we've played excellent games in the defensive end," said James, who was greeted with chants of "MVP!" as he walked off the court. "If we can do that, we can win a championship."

Bosh could have used a bit of help in the frontcourt against Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace, who left the game in the third quarter with back spasms. But starting centre Andrea Bargnani, coming off a 14-point performance against the Heat, finished with zero points, on 0-for-5 shooting, and just one rebound in 161/2 minutes.

---

REPLAY

KING MILESTONE

LeBron James passed Brad Daugherty for the Cavaliers franchise record in points scored when he picked up two on a driving layup with 4:10 left in the first quarter. Daugherty had scored 10,389 in 548 games before last night, James was four back at 10,385.


Videos

Photos