In what could be his final game as coach in Toronto, Lenny Wilkens hopes to finish up strong as the Raptors visit the Cleveland Cavaliers to close the regular season.
Wilkens, who holds the NBA coaching record for both wins and losses, is expected to be fired after the season.
Toronto is guaranteed to finish with its worst record since going 16-66 in 1997-98. The Raptors had made the playoffs the last three seasons.
Wilkens’ last game in Toronto ended in a 103-99 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday. He was booed during pregame introductions and when asked if it was his last home game, he said: “I don’t know, we’ll find out, we’re going to talk when I get back and we’ll see.”
Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald grabbed a microphone and told the crowd, “We will not stand for this any longer.”
Morris Peterson scored a career-high 33 points for the Raptors, who fought through injuries all season, including one to star guard Vince Carter. They played just seven players against Miami and lost for the seventh consecutive game.
“It’s been very difficult, because I’ve never experienced so many injuries. I’ve never been out of the playoffs so early,” Wilkens said. “I don’t think they quit.”
The Cavs haven’t made the postseason since 1998, but did come close to knocking off East champion Detroit in Monday’s 89-88 loss.
Cleveland shot 66.7 percent in the first quarter and finished the game at 52 percent (38-for-73). The Cavs held a 45-28 rebounding advantage and got 25 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds from Ricky Davis.
“This is just another frustrating night in a long, hard season,” Davis said after his team lost for the nine time in 11 games. “We’re all beat up and we almost pulled this one out. I guess that’s something like a moral victory, but that’s not enough for us anymore.”
Cleveland has dropped 13 of the last 16 meetings with the Raptors, but is in position to clinch its first series against Toronto since 1997-98.
STANDINGS: Raptors - 7th place, 26 GB, Central Division. Cavaliers - 8th place, 34 GB, Central Division.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Raptors - F Jerome Williams, F Chris Jefferies, C Mamadou N’diaye, G Morris Peterson, G Rafer Alston. Cavaliers - F Darius Miles, F Carlos Boozer, C Zydrunas Ilgauskas, G Milt Palacio, G Davis.
TEAM LEADERS: Raptors - Carter, 20.6 ppg; Jerome Williams, 9.1 rpg; Alvin Williams, 5.3 apg. Cavaliers - Davis, 20.6 ppg and 5.5 apg; Ilgauskas and Boozer, 7.5 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Cavaliers, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 26; Raptors, 89-83. At Toronto, both teams shot less than 40 percent from the field. Peterson made half his field goals (9-for-18) and finished with a team-high 21 for the Raptors. Ilgauskas led five teammates in double figures with 25 points for the Cavs, who outrebounded the Raptors 47-39.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Raptors - 9-31 on the road; Cavaliers - 13-27 at home.
INJURIES: Raptors - G Carter (ankle); C Antonio Davis (groin); G Lindsey Hunter (back); C Eric Montross (foot); F Lamond Murray (foot); G Voshon Lenard (knee); F Maceo Baston (ankle); G Alvin Williams (ankle); C Hakeem Olajuwon (back). Cavaliers - G Dajuan Wagner (knee).