Wednesday, December 10, 2008
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Cavaliers win 9th straight, 114-94 over Raptors

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[December 10, 2008]  CLEVELAND (AP) -- They rewrote part of the franchise record book, won their ninth straight game and delivered yet another second-half knockout.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are beating NBA teams like no one has before.

RestaurantLeBron James scored 31 points and set the team record for steals, Zydrunas Ilgauskas became the Cavaliers' career leader in rebounds, and Cleveland moved to 12-0 at home with a 114-94 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.

In winning their ninth straight by at least 12 points, the Cavaliers, now 17-1 since Nov. 3, are the first team in league history to win nine consecutive games in a single season so handily. Cleveland came in tied with Portland (1990-91), Chicago (1996-97), Detroit (2003-04) and Houston (2007-08).

And the way they're playing, it doesn't look like anyone can run with the Cavs right now. They've won the nine games in their streak by an average of 21.5 points.

Leading by only 59-51 at halftime, Cleveland opened the third quarter with a 23-2 run, highlighted by two breakaway dunks from James, who threw one down left-handed in the first half and added some style points to another jam in the third quarter.

James also passed Mark Price (734) for the club's steals mark, added five rebounds, four assists and three steals in just 30 minutes. The megastar also watched from the bench in the fourth quarter -- a typical seat for him of late -- as the Cavaliers raced away in another lopsided laugher.


Ilgauskas had 13 points and surpassed Brad Daugherty (5,227) as Cleveland's career rebound leader when he picked up a loose ball with 2:01 left before halftime.

Joey Graham scored 17 points, Jose Calderon 14 and Chris Bosh had nine -- 16 below his average -- for the Raptors, who have lost five in a row and three straight since coach Sam Mitchell was fired last week.

It was fitting that James and Ilgauskas set their records on the same night.

Like the Price-Daughtery tandem before them, the James-Ilgauskas duo has been at the forefront of Cleveland's NBA resurgence.

When the Cavaliers beat Detroit to win their first Eastern Conference title in 2007, James rushed across the floor to embrace Ilgauskas, a 7-foot-3 gentle giant who overcame numerous foot injuries earlier in his career to become one of the league's steadiest big men.

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Last week, James predicted Ilgauskas' No. 11 jersey will hang one day from the rafters at Quicken Loans Arena.

Perhaps alongside James' No. 23 .

By swiping a Toronto pass in the opening minute, James eclipsed Price's steals record. Price set the previous standard for steals in 582 career games for Cleveland from 1986-95. James, already the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer, has played in just 412 games since turning pro in 2003.

During a timeout, James' record was announced and Cleveland's crowd rose and gave a standing ovation for the Olympic gold medalist, who raised his arms overhead in return.

Then it was Ilgauskas' turn. On a missed 3-pointer by Jason Kapono, both Ilgauskas and James were in perfect position to grab the ball. But when James realized Ilgauskas was next to him, he pulled his hands away so the man known simply as "Z" who has gotten the majority of his boards near the rim could bend down and pick up No. 5,228 with ease.

Notes: Cavaliers G Daniel Gibson sprained his left toe in the second quarter and didn't return. ... Toronto has lost eight consecutive games in Cleveland. ... Browns quarterback Brady Quinn, recovering from season-ending surgery on his finger, attended the game. ... Raptors F Kris Humphries (right knee tendinitis) missed his third straight game.

[Associated Press; By TOM WITHERS]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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