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Cavs break out to crush Raptors

LEBRON James flirted with a triple-double as the Cleveland Cavaliers roared out of the all-star break to thrash the Toronto Raptors 93-76 on Wednesday.

James appeared to be suffering from an all-star party hangover, misfiring on his first four shots and finishing the opening half with just four points.

The league's leading scorer, averaging more than 28 points a game, however, finished strong with 20 points along with nine assists and nine rebounds to narrowly miss his 21st career triple-double.

"I just took what the defense gave me," James told reporters. "They gave me an opportunity to dish out to my teammates in the first half, in the second half they closed down on my shooters and I was able to be aggressive.

"I don't think about the triple-double but my game does.

"That sounds a little crazy but that's just how my game is built. My game is built around playing an all-round game."

The victory allowed the Cavaliers to trim the Boston Celtics' lead in the Eastern Conference standings to 1 1/2 games. The Raptors remained anchored near the bottom of the conference in 14th place.

Elsewhere in the National Basketball Association, it was: Mavericks 113, Nets 98; Lakers 129, Warriors 121; Hornets 117, Magic 85; Timberwolves 111, Heat 104; Nuggets 101, 76ers 89; Suns 142, Clippers 119; Bobcats 103, Pacers 94; Bulls 113, Bucks 104; Hawks 105, Kings 100; and Trail Blazers 94, Grizzlies 90.

In Toronto, Zydrunas Ilgauskas contributed a game-high 22 points for Cleveland while Joey Graham led the Raptors with 15 points.

Shawn Marion, obtained in a trade with Miami during the all-star break, eased into the Toronto starting line-up and had a solid debut for his new team.

With all-star Chris Bosh on the bench with a sprained knee, Marion logged a team-high 40 minutes of work, hitting for 10 points with six assists and six rebounds.

The Raptors had the early jump by racing to a 19-10 lead but Cavaliers quickly found their rhythm, finishing the opening quarter with a 14-4 run to nose in front 24-23.

Cleveland continued to pull away in the second quarter, taking a 47-41 edge into the intermission. The Cavaliers took command in the third with James leading the charge with eight points, including two thundering dunks, to surge in front 71-56.

"LeBron is a special player," said Cleveland coach Mike Brown. "He can have two points in the first half and you just know he is going to end up with 20 plus.

"He almost had a triple-double tonight and you would never have thought that at half-time."

Toronto coach Jay Triano was not around to watch the his team's second-half collapse after he was ejected from the game with five minutes to play for arguing a call.


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