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Toronto Raptors point guard Mike James apologized to his teammates after last nightâ€™s sold out game at the Air Canada Centre. And while the common sound bite is that no single play ever loses a game, Jamesâ€™ mental lapse came as close as possible to making that phrase obsolete. His spectacular showing against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night was highlight reel, man-on-a-mission stuff with 30 points for the cause. In the end though, it was another one that got away.
â€œI told my teammates when I came back in here, I apologized to all of them because that was my fault,â€ said James in a quiet locker room. â€œThey say you don’t win or lose on one play. But the last shot that should have been taken that went in should have been from Mo Pete.”
He is referring to guard Morris Petersonâ€™s three-point make after forward Chris Bosh snagged an offensive rebound that put the Dinos up by two, 97-94, with 4.8 seconds remaining in the game. It capped off a 31 point night for Peterson, who is increasingly becoming a steady threat on both ends of the floor. Alas, the effort was washed away when LeBron James (35 points) got the ball and drove the lane for his final attempt. The defense collapsed on him, including Torontoâ€™s James who inexplicably left three-point specialist Damon Jones wide open in the corner. Jones calmly sunk the buzzer-beating three-pointer to steal a 98-97 win in front of 19,800 fans.
â€œI makes no sense collapsing,â€ said Bosh, who recovered from a scoreless first half to register 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. â€œWeâ€™re up by two. If he makes a tough two-point shot we can live with that. He canâ€™t suck us in, thatâ€™s for the beginning of the game not at the end. Thatâ€™s too easy. Damon Jones had a standstill three-point shot. Now, instead of at worst going to overtime we lose.
â€œI made a point to talk to everybody but something else happened.â€
That something else was James deviating from the plan, a vigilante judgment that the scraping for wins Raptors can ill-afford.
â€œWe canâ€™t just point the finger at one person,â€ said Peterson, who also logged 47 minutes on the night while defending the Cavsâ€™ James for most of it. â€œWeâ€™re a team. If we win we win as a team. Heâ€™s (James) done a lot of great things for us this year, hit some game winners for us and kept us in games. If we lose, we lose together too. Weâ€™re all a family so if we go down we all go down together.â€
And so they have but, as most of the Raptors pointed out last night, itâ€™s the same old story of last second losses and untimely brain cramps.
“It was tough,” head coach Sam Mitchell said in a quickie postgame session. “It’s nothing to even talk about.”