Cavaliers 113, Raptors 101
As Chris Bosh laid on the floor dazed with blood streaming from his nose, the Toronto Raptors felt a different pain.
Their road to the playoffs could be even tougher now.
Flattened by an inadvertent elbow from Cleveland's Antawn Jamison, Bosh sustained a broken bone in his face Tuesday night as the Raptors, battling Chicago for the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference, were beaten 113-101 by the Cavaliers, who have won 11 straight at home.
Bosh was accidentally struck by Jamison as the two jostled for position in the lane in the opening minutes. Bosh, who had blood dripping from his nose and mouth area as he was assisted from the floor, was immediately taken to the Cleveland Clinic for a CT scan.
Following the game, the Raptors said tests showed the All-Star forward suffered a ``maxilla and nasal fracture to the right side of his face.'' Bosh, who returned to Quicken Loans Arena in the fourth quarter, will not travel with the team. Instead, he was to be kept in the hospital overnight for further evaluation.
Bosh's loss couldn't have come at a worse time for the Raptors, who entered the night clinging to the No. 8 playoff spot. Toronto has a tough week ahead with games against Boston, Atlanta and the Bulls, who lost to Milwaukee and remain one game behind the Raptors.
It's not known when Bosh, who is eligible for free agency this summer, will rejoin the team or if he'll be able to play once he returns.
``We have to keep fighting, regardless if we have him or not,'' said Jarrett Jack, who led the Raptors with 23 points. ``It doesn't get any easier and you can't run. Timing is never perfect it seems in the NBA. It happens and you have to deal with it. It's part of the game like anything else. Injuries are part of it.
``As silly as this may sound, with Chris going down, it creates an opportunity for somebody to step up. You might have been wanting that playing time all season. It's in front of you now. You have an opportunity to do something with it and come through for our team, because we're going to need someone to step up if he's not able to go.''
Toronto's loss also clinched a playoff spot for the Miami Heat.
Jamison scored 20 points - 12 in the third when the Cavs opened a double-digit lead - and Anthony Parker had a season-high 18.
LeBron James scored 19 with 13 assists and Mo Williams had 14 and 12 assists for Cleveland, which has wrapped up the NBA's best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and is expected to rest players in the next few games to get ready for the postseason.
The Raptors also lost forward Antoine Wright in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
Bosh was battling with Jamison when he was nailed by the elbow. Bosh immediately dropped to the floor and stayed there as play continued at the other end. Stunned by the blow and in obvious pain, Bosh got to his knees as blood splattered on the court.
``I didn't think it was that severe,'' Jamison said. ``But once he went down, you knew it was. I didn't think I hit him that hard at all. It was just a bad angle and an unfortunate play. Freakish things like that happen.''
When there was finally a whistle, medical personnel from both teams went onto the floor to attend to Bosh. Holding a towel to his face, he was helped from the court and taken to Cleveland's locker room, where he was examined by Cavs team physician Dr. Richard Parker.
``He's a friend of mine and an Olympic teammate,'' James said. ``You hate to see that happen to anybody, especially this late in the season when they're trying to make a push for the playoffs. He may have to wear a mask or something.''
Despite losing Bosh, who averages 24.3 points and 11 rebounds, the Raptors were still within seven points with 7 minutes to go. James, who sat out the first 4:21 of the fourth, then scored six straight points as the Cavaliers opened a 104-91 lead.
With nothing to play for until the playoffs, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown intends to rest his players in the coming days.
``I look at these games as a high-level practice,'' he said. ``If we don't win, it doesn't really matter.''
The Raptors don't have that luxury. Every game is crucial, and if Toronto is able to hang on and make the playoffs, which will be difficult with or without Bosh, the Raptors could face the Cavs in the opening round - a matchup that Toronto guard Sonny Weems wouldn't mind.
``Every game we've played them, it's been real close,'' Weems said before the game. ``I don't think they want that in the first round of the playoffs. We're going to come to play.''
James dismissed Weems' comment and didn't want to get involved in any trash talk.
``I'm not getting into that,'' James said, grinning. ``They're having a great season so far.''
The Cavaliers were without guard Delonte West, rested as a precaution with what the team said were lower back spasms. Anderson Varejao returned after missing three games with a sore hamstring and had 10 points in 28 minutes.
NOTES: Cavs center Shaquille O'Neal has not yet been cleared for contact, Brown said. O'Neal has been out since Feb. 25 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. ... Duke winning the NCAA title was tough on Jamison, a former North Carolina Tar Heel. ``It's a sad day in Chapel Hill,'' Jamison said, referring to UNC's campus. ``I don't think anybody even went outside down there.'' ... Toronto has lost 11 in a row at Cleveland. The Raptors haven't won here since April 6, 2004.