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Wagner scores career-high 33 points in victory

12/12/2002

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Dajuan Wagner responded to John Lucas'
motivational talk in a big way.

Wagner scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Cleveland
Cavaliers past the injury-riddled Toronto Raptors 96-83 Wednesday
night.

"I took what coach said as a challenge,'' Wagner said. "He
told me to be more aggressive. That's what I tried to do.''

Wagner scored 14 points in the third quarter as Cleveland turned
a 46-44 deficit into a 74-67 lead. The Cavs then opened the fourth
quarter with an 18-6 run, holding Toronto without a field goal for
the first 4:03.

Wagner bounced back from a 1-for-6 shooting performance Monday
night to connect on 50 percent of his shots for the first time as a
pro, hitting 12 of 24.

"I really ran Juanny because he didn't play very well in the
last game,'' Lucas said of his 19-year-old scorer. "He came out
and played very, very well. I really believe Juanny is going to be
a star and I've got to get it out of him.''

Wagner, who played just one year of college ball at Memphis, led
the Cavs in scoring for the fifth time in the last six games. He is
averaging 20.1 points since missing the first 14 games with a
bladder infection.

"He's going to be a great player in this league one day,'' said
Raptors forward Morris Peterson, who scored 15 points.

Voshon Lenard scored a season-high 24 points to lead Toronto,
which lost for the fourth time in five games.

Ricky Davis had 22 points for Cleveland, which has gone 2-19
since a 2-2 start.

"We were in dire need of a win,'' Davis said. "This was real
big.''

Guard Alvin Williams joined the growing list of injured Raptors.
He left 3:45 into the second quarter with a sore left ankle and did
not return. He had been playing with soreness since hurting the
ankle Dec. 2 at Dallas.

"I don't know what happened,'' Williams said. "It just swelled
up a lot. It is limiting a lot of my movement.''

The Raptors already were without six injured players, including
All-Star guard Vince Carter. The Raptors' leading scorer, averaging
19.2 a game, is expected to be sidelined two weeks with a strained
right knee.

Antonio Davis, who leads the Raptors in rebounding, centers
Hakeem Olajuwon, Mamadou N'diaye and Eric Montross and former Cavs
forward Lamond Murray also were not with the team due to a variety
of ailments.

Wagner had no clue the Raptors were ailing.

"I didn't even know (Carter was hurt),'' Wagner said. "I just
worry about my game and my team and things will take care of
themselves. I don't worry about what the other team does.''

Davis was not only aware of the Raptors' woes, but wary.

"Some teams play better under those circumstances,'' he said.
"There's a big difference without Carter and Davis in there for
them.''

Guard Lindsey Hunter, who had missed Toronto's previous 11 games
with a sore right knee, scored seven points in 24 minutes. He had
not played since Nov. 17 against Utah.

Lenard scored 16 points in the first half and the Raptors led at
the break 46-44.

Game notes
Wagner is the ninth Cavs rookie to score 30 points in a
game. The team rookie record is 40, by Ron Harper in 1987 ...
Rookie G Smush Parker, who had a career-best 20 points Monday
night, got his first career start for Cleveland. He had seven
points in 27 minutes. ... Toronto has not had a full squad of 12
players available for any game this season.