In what was expected to be a showcase between two stars from the 2003 NBA draft, a 2006 draftee ended up stealing the show.
Andrea Bargnani scored 28 points to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 101-91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Toronto’s home opener Wednesday night.
Raptors forward Chris Bosh (drafted fourth overall in 2003) had a double-double with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
Reigning league MVP Lebron James (drafted first overall in 2003) replied with a triple-double (23 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) for the Cavaliers (0-2).
Toronto (1-0) handed the defending Eastern Conference regular season champions their second loss in as many nights. Boston ruined the Cavs home opener on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s game was highlighted by the matchup between Bosh and James, who are both entering the final year of their contracts. If they aren’t signed by the summer, the two stars will be unrestricted free agents.
The Raptors led by seven at the beginning of the fourth quarter and fended off the Cavaliers through the final stages of the game.
With two minutes remaining, James made a three-pointer to bring the Cavaliers to within six. He attempted another shot from beyond the arc 30 seconds later, but couldn’t connect.
Jose Calderon put the contest out of reach with a layup off a turnover in the dying seconds.
Toronto was solid defensively, limiting their opponents to just 35 per cent shooting from the field. Meanwhile, the Raptors made 45 per cent of their chances.
Cleveland was trailing 57-39 heading into the third quarter, but made things challenging for the Raptors coming out of half time.
The Cavaliers connected on five of their first eight three-point attempts and trimmed their deficit from 18 to one.
They tied the game at 69 with two minutes remaining in the quarter thanks to a free-throw by James, but Toronto went on a 9-2 run to close out the third with a 78-71 lead.
Raps kept pulling away
Cleveland came close to tying it in the second quarter, but once again, the Raptors pulled away at the right time.
Trailing 27-22, the Cavaliers came within one point of tying the game, but Toronto went on a 12-4 run to go up 41-32 before Cleveland called a timeout.
The Raptors continued to build off their momentum coming out of the break, going on a 16-4 run to lead by as much as 21.
They outscored the Cavaliers 30-17 in the second quarter and ended the first half with a 57-39 lead.
Bargnani led the way with 21 points, while Bosh had 10 points and nine rebounds through 24 minutes. James had 14 points and was the only Cavalier to finish the half in double figures.
Toronto exploded out of the gate early, going on a 13-0 run to take a 17-6 lead six minutes into the game.
Back in March, Shaquille O’Neal called Bosh the “RuPaul of big men.” Bosh responded by adding 15 pounds of muscle over the summer and winning the opening tipoff against the 18-year pro.
O’Neal scored 12 points in his second game as a Cavalier.
Former Raptors Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon came back to the Air Canada Centre for the first time since being signed by Cleveland in the summer.
Parker finished with 12 points, while Moon scored nine.
Reggie Evans (foot), Sonny Weems (foot), and Quincy Douby (unspecified) did not dress for the Raptors.