Cleveland (8-3) at Toronto (2-8)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 46° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Wed Nov 22, 2006
  • TV: FSOH, SCOR
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a good chance to improve upon the best record in the Eastern Conference when they visit the lowly Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.

The Cavaliers (8-3) have won six of their last seven games to take a two-game lead on Indiana and Detroit in the Central Division. Cleveland improved to 6-1 at home with a 97-94 win over Memphis on Tuesday.

Drew Gooden scored a season-high 22 points and added 15 rebounds. LeBron James had only 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting, but recorded nine assists as the Cavaliers held off a late Memphis rally from 20 points down.

Guard Damon Jones, who is averaging 15.6 points in his last five games, scored 11 of Cleveland’s 17 points in the fourth quarter, hit three 3-pointers in the period and added two key free throws in the final seconds to help give the Cavaliers the win.

Jones, who had 21 points off the bench, was determined after being ejected for arguing with an official in the team’s 111-91 loss to Washington on Saturday.

“Damon was huge,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “Damon really bailed us out offensively. I knew it wasn’t going to be an issue with him bouncing back after the game in Washington. We were all frustrated.”

The Cavaliers look to improve on their 2-2 road record in Toronto, a city where they have won their last three games.

James averaged 26.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists in three games against the Raptors last season, all Cavs victories. Cleveland has won the last four meetings between the teams overall.

Cleveland guard Larry Hughes, who is averaging 13.8 points per game, could miss up to four more games with a high ankle sprain. He has not played since Nov. 15.

“We’re not in any rush to get him back right now,” Brown said. “We want to make sure we handle this the right way.”

The Raptors (2-8) will try to avoid losing a seventh straight game Wednesday. Toronto, which had losing streaks of nine and 10 games last season, is tied with Charlotte for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto almost snapped its skid Monday, but blew a 16-point lead in the third quarter and fell to Utah 101-96 to cap a five-game road trip.

“We probably panicked a little bit when they made their run. You know, this is the NBA. We had to be aware that the home team was going to make a run,” Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said.

The Raptors have struggled defensively in the early portion of the season, allowing a 105.4 points per game, second-highest in the league to Phoenix’s 108.1.

Forward Chris Bosh has been one of the team’s few bright spots. He scored a game-high 17 points against Utah and is averaging 21.7 points and 12.7 rebounds in the first 10 games.

Point guard T.J. Ford, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Milwaukee for Charlie Villanueva, has started to pick up his game. Ford had 16 points against the Jazz, two nights after he scored 26 points and added 18 assists against Denver.

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Scoreboard

Wednesday, Nov 22