Toronto (32-27) at Cleveland (33-25)

  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Sat Mar 3, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

LeBron James just can’t do it alone.

After missing four clutch shots at the end of a tough loss, James hopes to continue his tremendous play and get some support from teammates Saturday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Toronto Raptors.

James is averaging 33.2 points over the past six games, but the Cavaliers (33-25) have won just three of those games and also lost three of the last four.

The All-Star small forward, who leads the team with 26.9 points per game, had one of his best performances of the season squandered Thursday. James matched his season high of 39 points, but missed two free throws and a pair of 3-pointers in the final 13.7 seconds of Cleveland’s 95-92 loss at Dallas.

Despite the ending, Cavs coach Mike Brown called it James’ second-best performance of the season, insisting that “LeBron’s intensity kept us in it.”

James himself acknowledged it was “the best I’ve felt in a while.”

“I wanted to be focused and our team could tell,” he said. “I tried to be as aggressive as possible. I got good looks on both shots. I’ll take those looks any day.”

James, though, might want to have his teammates more involved after the other four starters totaled 22 points against the Mavericks.

Some of the scoring troubles could be attributed to the absence of Larry Hughes, the Cavs’ second-leading scorer with 14.7 points. The shooting guard missed the loss with the flu and is uncertain to play Saturday. If he can’t go, Sasha Pavlovic could get his second start in Hughes’ place after scoring 11 points Thursday.

The Cavs provided solid support for James in the last meeting with Toronto, an 86-85 road win on Feb. 21.

James scored 29 points, and the rest of the starting lineup added 37 and 33 rebounds, with Anderson Varejao’s dunk with 16 seconds to play clinching the victory. Varejao finished with 16 points and 15 boards and James improved his scoring average to 25.9 points in 14 games against Toronto.

“You have to give Anderson credit, he just kicked our butt,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said after that game. “We didn’t put a body on him and he just beat us out.”

That win was Cleveland’s sixth in seven games against Toronto, including four in a row at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs have not lost at home to the Raptors since an 87-86 defeat on April 6, 2004.

Toronto (32-27) hopes it can end that skid and avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since a three-game slide from Dec. 29-Jan. 3. The Raptors are 7-3 on the road after going 5-15 in their first 20.

The Raptors lost 94-81 to Milwaukee on Friday, with All-Star forward and leading scorer Chris Bosh held to 14 points while taking just eight shots due to being double-teamed every time he touched the ball.

“They made a concerted effort to take Bosh out of the game,” Mitchell said. “When we threw him the ball, they had two or three people guarding him.”

Bosh, who is averaging career highs of 22.7 points and 10.6 rebounds, has averaged just 13.7 and 9.3, respectively, in his last three games. He hopes to snap out of the slump against the Cavaliers, against whom he is averaging 22.7 points and 11.3 rebounds in the last six meetings.

Bosh and the Raptors will be without forward Andrea Bargnani, who averages 11.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. The No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft is traveling to Italy to be with his ailing grandfather and is expected to return for Tuesday’s contest at Washington.

Toronto may also be without Anthony Parker for a third consecutive game due to a sprained right ankle.

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