Big Bosh Man plays with great spirit

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

Chris Bosh was asked if he channeled NBA legend Bill Walton yesterday. "I like all the great big men," said Bosh, the Raptors rookie centre who showed up for the game against the New Orleans Hornets wearing a No. 32 retro Portland Trail Blazers jersey with Walton written on the back. "That's my thing, I try to take a little something from everybody." Bosh certainly took something from the Hornets in the Raptors' refreshing 84-76 victory. Bosh's stats line -- 16 points, 12 rebounds -- was impressive, but it was two plays in particular that cut out the Hornets' faintly beating hearts:

- Early in the fourth quarter, Bosh's soaring, athletic dunk over Hornets centre and Toronto native Jamaal Magloire electrified the pro-Raptors crowd. Bosh was fouled and subsequently missed the free throw, but the play still will be highlight fodder for years to come.

"Well, I knew what was coming," Bosh said of the contact from Magloire, who has a 30-pound weight advantage. "I knew he was going to stop me. I wasn't going to keep going. But I wanted to make sure I was ready for the contact, just take it and try to get a bucket.

"It's all about will and going for the basket. That's how it goes in this game. I just wanted that play."

Did Bosh peak at the scoreboard to watch the replay?

"I tried to sneak a look, but I didn't see it."

- With about three minutes to go and the Hornets having whittled a 16-point deficit down to six, Bosh reached for the sky and pulled down a monstrously important offensive rebound after a miss by teammate Donyell Marshall. The sequence was capped off when new acquisition Rod Strickland fed Bosh for a slam that settled the homeside's nerves.

The Raptors have won only two of their past 13 games, but at 27-36 they remain in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. Bosh has shown signs of weariness in recent weeks, but he made a loud statement yesterday that he still has a lot of basketball left in his burdened 19-year-old frame.

"Chris has been a little up and down lately, not in terms of his effort, but some nights he gets beat up," Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill said. "But I have noticed a difference in him lately. His resolve is much stronger in the past two weeks."

Bosh needed all his resolve yesterday to stare down Magloire, who bulled his way to 23 points and a career-high 21 rebounds. Magloire was the only Hornets player who bothered to show up. It seemed as if most of Magloire's teammates had been enjoying the Toronto club scene a little too much the night before.

"We're not helping ourselves by losing these kinds of games," said Magloire, whose talented Hornets sit at a mediocre 33-30.

If the Hornets' roster is better than their record, it isn't Magloire's fault, according to O'Neill.

"I love that guy," O'Neill said of Magloire. "He deserved to be an all-star (this season). I voted for him. He has a disposition about him that forces you to play hard or be embarrassed, no matter what the circumstances are."

Magloire, 25, gave a mixed review when asked about Bosh.

"I'm not sure about his work ethic, but from what I've seen he's very athletic," Magloire said. "I see him asking questions out there on the court, which is good. I hope he has a good work ethic, and with his athleticism and his young age, I think he can be a very good player in this league."

Magloire probably was making an innocent mistake, detecting laziness rather than soreness in Bosh's lumbering gait. Magloire doesn't see Bosh all that often, after all, but his work ethic never has been questioned by his coaches or teammates, who see him every day.

In any event, Bosh's tenaciousness won the game for the Raptors yesterday, whether he was channeling Walton or not.


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