The Toronto Raptors had newcomers Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks but no Chris Bosh, and that proved to be a problem in a 93-76 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Bosh, who leads the Raptors in scoring and rebounding, missed a fifth straight game because a sprained right knee.
Marion started at forward for Toronto and posted 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, six rebounds and a team-high six assists in a solid debut.
"It is just a matter of them getting a feel for me and me getting a feel for them," Marion said. "We saw some good things out there — and some things we need to work on."
Marion and Banks were acquired last Friday, along with cash considerations, from the Miami Heat in return for Jermaine O'Neal, Jamario Moon and a first-round draft pick.
Banks finished with four points and two assists in less than 12 minutes off the bench.
"Collectively, we were a little tired by the end," Marion said.
Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, the NBA's leading scorer, flirted with a triple-double as he finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists before taking a seat at the bench with three minutes remaining.
"I just took what the defence gave me," he said. "They gave me an opportunity to dish out to my teammates in the first half.
"In the second half, they closed down on my shooters and I was able to be aggressive. I don't think about the triple-double, but my game does.
"That sounds a little crazy, but that is just how my game is built. My game is built around playing an all-around game."
"LeBron is a special player," Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown said. "He can have two points in the first half and you just know he is going to end up with 20 -plus."
'We knew we had a size advantage'
Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 22 points, followed by Mo Williams with 17 points and Wally Szczerbiak with 11.
Anderson Varejao had a game-best 14 rebounds to go with five points and three blocked shots for the Cavaliers, winners in six of their last eight games.
"We knew we had a size advantage with these guys," Ilgauskas said. "They looked for me early in the post and we were able to succeed."
"It is frustrating," said Raptors forward Joey Graham, who scored a team-high 15 points.
"You try so many looks, so many game plans and schemes and none of them worked too well. We fought hard for 48 minutes and gave a lot of effort."
Jose Calderon contributed 13 points for Toronto, and Andrea Bargnani had 11 points in limited action because of foul trouble.
Anthony Parker provided nine points with team highs of seven rebounds and two steals.
"Offensively, we couldn't find anybody to really get it going," Raptors interim head coach Jay Triano said.
'I wanted to have a good game'
Led by a strong effort under the basket from Bargnani, the Raptors raced out to a 19-10 lead with 4:36 left in the opening quarter, but the Cavaliers replied with a 14-4 run to lead 24-23 through one.
In the second, Ilgauskas tallied eight points and Williams had six points as Cleveland led 47-41 at intermission.
"Having played poorly in the last couple of games before the [NBA] all-star break, just for myself, I wanted to have a good game and get back in the swing of things," Ilgauskas said.
The Cavaliers outscored the Raptors 24-15 in the third quarter, landing 61.1 per cent of their shots compared to just 31.6 per cent for Toronto.
James counted 10 of the 24 points as Cleveland took a 71-56 lead into the fourth.
"Cleveland is one of the better defensive teams in the league," Triano said. "They take things away and we were hesitant.
"We're trying to teach guys on the fly and trying to teach them on the floor. When you have that hesitancy, you lose rhythm."
Triano received two technicals and an automatic ejection for arguing that Parker was fouled by James on a missed jump shot with about five minutes remaining.
Triano had to be restrained by Raptors assistant coach Mike Evans and walked to the locker room in a rage — and to a standing ovation from the capacity crowd of 19,800 at the Air Canada Centre.With files from the Canadian Press