The Toronto Raptors' playoff hopes are hanging by a thread today and Chris Bosh's season is suddenly in jeopardy, too.
The Raptors lost their second straight game, 113-101 to the league-leading Cleveland Cavaliers, but their biggest loss came with just over two minutes gone in the first quarter, when Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison inadvertently crashed his elbow down on the right side of Bosh's face as Jamison reached for a pass.
The blow left the Raptors franchise player on his knees and elbows on the court, blood leaking on the bright wood. He was led off the floor with a towel pressed to his face and examined in the visitors' locker room by Cavaliers team doctor Richard Parker before being taken to the Cleveland Clinic for a CT scan, the right side of his nose and face having absorbed the worst of the blow.
"The ball went behind me and [my arm]went back and his face was there," said Jamison, who wasn't called for a foul. "I didn't think it was that severe, but when he went down you kind of knew is was more severe, and then you saw blood. I didn't think I hit him that hard at all, just a bad angle and an unfortunate play."
Bosh was diagnosed with a maxilla and nose fracture. He returned to the arena before the end of the game but did not fly to Toronto with the team on the charter afterward, instead remaining in hospital in Cleveland for further evaluation and treatment, the team said in a release.
And just like that, the Raptors' prospects for post-season play - already perilous - became more so.
The loss dropped the Raptors to 38-39. They maintained a one-game lead over the Chicago Bulls, who were hosting the Milwaukee Bucks (the Bucks lost their best player, Andrew Bogut, for the season on Saturday) in the race for the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors returned home after the game to face the Boston Celtics, a game behind Atlanta for the No. 3 seed in the East. The Raptors travel to Atlanta on Friday.
It seems almost certain Bosh won't be with the Raptors tonight against the Celtics; the question is whether they'll have their leading scorer and rebounder in the lineup against Atlanta, or at all for the team's final five games of the season.
To their credit, the Raptors didn't fold against Cleveland. Instead, they briefly looked as though they would steal a badly needed game from the unsuspecting Cavaliers, who have clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and are now trying to strike a balance in keeping their key players rested and healthy without losing their edge.
Toronto trailed by nine after the first quarter but cut the Cavs' lead to 55-53 at half. But in the third quarter, LeBron James, the NBA's leading scorer at 29.7 points a game, turned playmaker, dishing six of his game-high 12 assists as the Cavaliers shot 71.4 per cent for the quarter.
By this time, the Raptors were also without Antoine Wright, who re-aggravated an ankle injury, though he said he's hopeful to play tonight.
"If you show and pay attention to [James] he's going to pick you apart," said Raptors head coach Jay Triano. "There's a reason they're 34-2 in their last 36 games here."
James finished with 19 points to go along with his 13 helpers as Cleveland had a season-high 38 assists on the night. They shot 56 per cent with seven players in double figures. Toronto was led by Jarrett Jack, who had 23 points and six assists off the bench as Toronto shot 47 per cent from the floor.
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