Getting to know Marion

Chris Bosh (left) and Shawn Marion chat on the bench during their game against the Cavs on...

Chris Bosh (left) and Shawn Marion chat on the bench during their game against the Cavs on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Alex Urosevic)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The Raptors late-season reno will be hard enough without LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavalier showing up to knock over the ladders, spill the paint and mess up the work site in general.

Toronto's lineup, in a state of transition with Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks' arrival during the all-star break and with Chris Bosh hurt, was little match for a team going full throttle.

Marion helped limit King James to four points in the first half, but last night's 93-76 final resulted from a home team that lacked cohesion and might do so for days to come.

"You don't want to make excuses, but that's the reality of our situation," guard Anthony Parker said. "Guys are in different positions and different situations."

In several instances Marion was waiting for a pass that never came or when it did, it was in the wrong place.

"Basically, the principles are the same as we had in Miami," said Marion, who was nonetheless enthused about playing more wide-open basketball here.

He had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists, but was dwarfed when James got rolling. The latter ended up with 20 points, a hair off being the only player to get a second triple-double against the Raptors in the past two years.

Cleveland had 48 rebounds to Toronto's 32, but a damning stat for the home team was its 8-for-23 success from the back court, part of a dismal 36.5% shooting percentage that followed two wins prior to the break.

James rocked the rim on a couple of crowd-pleasing dunks to start the second half as Cleveland pulled away and improved to 41-11. Mocked by the crowd for dunking after a travelling call, he came back with another thunderous bucket and glared at the Toronto bench and the sold out Air Canada Centre as he sauntered back up the court.

"James can have 70 points as long as we win the game," Raptor coach Jay Triano said before the start. "Like we said about Kobe (Bryant and the Lakers), let their main guys score, but not their ancillary guys."

Yet James' passes found man mountain Zydrunas Ilgauskas enough to make him the game's high scorer at 22 points. Early foul trouble forced Toronto's big man Andrea Bargnani to the bench for Jake Voskuhl, with Bosh already incapacitated by a bad knee.

"We haven't had a chance to put in our defensive concepts with (Marion and Banks)," Triano said. "When we stopped moving the basketball, trying to teach guys, a good defensive team (Cleveland) clamps down."

Triano was not around at the end of the game, tossed with a double technical for arguing that James fouled Parker. Choosing his words carefully, Triano hinted that just because players such as Parker and Joey Graham lacked James' pedigree, they should be treated the same by officials.

Before this last stretch of the schedule began, general manager Bryan Colangelo said a playoff comeback was very possible.

"In the East, it's wide open right now," he opined. "There are a couple of teams looking at some situations where injuries might even prevent them from moving forward."

Banks was also optimistic.

"We're not far away at all. We're coming out fighting and we're going to be leaving it all on the court every night for the next 27 games."

Banks also was enthused about his own play upon arrival, playing almost 12 minutes after warming the bench in Miami.

"Everything happens for a reason. Shawn and I are here to try and change this thing around and get (Jose) Calderon and Bosh some help and have a good time while we're here."


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