CLEVELAND - To a man, the Cavaliers will tell you how much they miss All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.
But rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters is doing his best to make up for Irving's team-leading 23.3-point scoring average. Waiters scored a team-high 23 points on Wednesday as the Cavs held off the Toronto Raptors 103-92 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Waiters has topped the 20-point barrier in each of his last three games and is averaging 24.3 points in that span. The 6-foot-4, 221-pounder also dished out six assists for the Cavs (20-38), who have now won four of their last five games.
The Raptors (23-35) had a three-game road winning streak snapped. They had also won four consecutive games at The Q.
Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan had a game-high 34 points, including 15 in the third quarter. He matched his career high with 14 free throws in 15 attempts. Recently acquired Rudy Gay added 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
For the Cavs, Shaun Livingston had 15 points, four rebounds and six assists. He's averaged 15 points in his two starts subbing for Irving, who is sidelined with a hyperextended right knee.
The Cavs are now 10-6 since they acquired center Marreese Speights and shooting guard Wayne Ellington from the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 22. The 6-10 Speights had 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds against the Raptors, while Ellington had 13 points.
Power forward Tristan Thompson, a native of Toronto, had 14 points and seven rebounds. Swingman C.J. Miles added 10 points off the bench.
The Cavs shot 41.5 percent from the field, compared to the Raptors' 44.9 percent.
The Cavs won the battle of the boards, 40-38.
Waiters had a team-high 21 points and five assists through three quarters. DeRozan caught fire in the third quarter, but the Cavs extended their lead to 80-71 entering the fourth.
The Cavs embarked on a 25-15 run that overlapped the first and second quarters. Suddenly, they had a 10-point bulge, 52-42, with 2:31 left in the first half.
Waiters, riding a hot streak the last few games, had 11 of his 14 first-half points in the second quarter to help the Cavs take a 57-48 advantage at halftime. The Cavs shot a sizzling 71.4 percent from the field in the second quarter (15-of-21).
The Cavs looked like they were running in mud in the first quarter. The Raptors limited the Cavs to 24 percent shooting from the field, yet only led 25-20. Livingston had seven points in the first quarter for Cleveland. For the Raptors, Gay fired in nine points and dished out three assists.
Toronto opened up a 14-point lead in the first quarter.
NOTES: Irving had an MRI in Chicago on Monday. He missed his second game in a row and 13 games total this season. There's a chance he could return for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers. "We'll see," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "I don't know. I do know that it would give him four days of rest. So, we'll see how he feels (on Thursday). (We'll) tackle that situation when it comes on Friday." ... Cavs guard Daniel Gibson, who missed the previous three games for personal reasons, has rejoined the team and was available to play vs. the Raptors. He turned 27 on Wednesday. Forward Omri Casspi (appendectomy) remains out. Scott said he'll probably see Casspi on Friday. ... After their trade with Memphis on Jan. 30, the Raptors are starting to believe they are a playoff team. They started the night five games behind No. 8 Milwaukee for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. They now have a legitimate scoring threat in Gay. They are 7-5 since he's been available to play. He averaged 21 points and 6.7 rebounds in his first 11 games with the Raptors. "When teams make a run on you, (Gay) can quell it with an offensive move, a one-on-one move, and get us a couple buckets that will stem the tide," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. It's not going to be easy making up five games, but making the playoffs is now a possibility. "That's our goal," Casey said. "That's what we're scratching and clawing for. We're within striking distance." ... Former Cavs majority owner Gordon Gund has a soft spot in his heart for his 1986 team. When he listens to the Cavs play this season, he can't help but think back to that season. "We had four rookies all starting on that team, too, in Brad Daugherty, 'Hot Rod' Williams, Mark Price and Ron Harper, which was a darn good group, too," Gund said.