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Published: Wednesday, 3/14/2012

Win streak stops at 3 for Cavaliers

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Raptors' James Johnson, right, fouls the Cavs' Alonzo Gee as he goes for the basket in the first quarter. The Raptors' James Johnson, right, fouls the Cavs' Alonzo Gee as he goes for the basket in the first quarter.
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CLEVELAND -- For some strange reason, the Toronto Raptors suddenly own the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Nobody can explain it. DeMar DeRozan, though, has a theory.

"LeBron ain't here," the Raptors guard joked.

Jerryd Bayless scored 20 points, Andrea Bargnani added 19, and Toronto slowed Cleveland's unexpected playoff push with a 96-88 victory Tuesday night, the Raptors' third win in three tries against the Cavaliers this season.

Bayless, starting in place of injured point guard Jose Calderon, added seven assists and helped contain rookie Kyrie Irving in 37 minutes while leading the Raptors to just their 14th win.

Leandro Barbosa added 17 points as Toronto won for only the fifth time in 14 games.

The Cavaliers had their winning streak stopped at three and blew a chance to move into a virtual tie with idle New York and Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Antawn Jamison, who has been mentioned in trade rumors all season, led the Cavs with 20 points. Irving scored 14 and Alonzo Gee 16.

Jamison can't understand why the Raptors have been such an unsolvable riddle this season.

"Man, I don't know," Jamison said. "I'm so frustrated right now. I can't put my finger on it."

The Cavs were still within six points in the final minute when the mobile 7-foot Bargnani, who has been a matchup nightmare for Cleveland in the past, rebounded his own miss and dunked to close the scoring.

Toronto has had a disappointing season -- except against Cleveland.

"I have no answers," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "Certain teams just have your number. I guess they have our number."

Bayless' 3-pointer and two free throws gave the Raptors an 88-75 lead with 6:02 remaining. The Cavs kept plugging away and got within six on Gee's 3-pointer. But on Toronto's next possession, Bayless was unable to get Irving to leave his feet with several ball fakes before burying a stone-cold jumper to make it 90-82.

The Cavs were still within 94-88 when Bargnani missed his shot, grabbed his rebound with one hand in the lane, and slammed it home to end Cleveland's night.

For good measure, Toronto's Amir Johnson rejected Irving's 3-point try at the horn.

Irving was unable to conjure up some of the fourth-quarter magic he has shown recently, and with Bayless guarding him most of the game, the talented 19-year-old finished just 5 of 17 from the floor. In three games against Toronto, the likely NBA Rookie of the Year went 10 of 42. Irving did add seven rebounds and seven assists. Irving refused to credit Toronto's defense for his misses. "It wasn't anything they were doing defensively. It was just me not hitting shots."

Raptors coach Dwayne Casey came in fearing Irving would be able to solve his team's defense. "He was my biggest nightmare," Casey said. "I woke up last night thinking about him going to the basket. He's going to be one of the bright young players in the league. Jerryd did a good job containing him."



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