Hurts so good

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:12 PM ET

The Raptors posted a stunning victory against a previously undefeated opponent last night, but they lost one of their key players, possibly for a while.

The Raptors obviously performed much better in a spectacular 104-95 victory against the Utah Jazz at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City than they had a night earlier, when they were blown out in Sacramento. But the Raptors' celebration was slightly muted afterward, considering the uncertain status of forward Donyell Marshall and his strained right hamstring.

Still, what an impressive victory this was for the visitors, who didn't even utilize marquee player Vince Carter for the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter. A patchwork fivesome that included Rafer Alston, Chris Bosh, Lamond Murray, Morris Peterson and Loren Woods simply got on a roll and didn't stop.

"It wasn't my idea to sit Vince, but that unit was playing well," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "They had earned the right to be on the floor. A lot of people stepped up."

Carter said he didn't feel slighted, although he certainly is unaccustomed to a spectator's role when a game is on the line.

"Why bring a new set of guys in if they're still rolling?" Carter said. "We could do it, don't get me wrong. But this builds confidence for us as a team."

The scary moment for the visitors came late in the second quarter, when Marshall crumpled to the court, clutching his right hamstring. Marshall had been on a two-on-one break with Murray, but Marshall suddenly pulled up and fell to the floor, his face a mask of pain.

Marshall eventually walked to the locker room under his own power, but he initially was diagnosed with a right hamstring strain -- but it could be a pull, which is more troublesome -- and did not return. His status for the remaining four games of this six-game Western swing is uncertain.

"I felt it go, I felt it pop," Marshall said of his hamstring. "It started tightening up (on Tuesday in Sacramento), but I thought it was okay to go. And the funny thing is, it loosened up as the game went on. But I guess it got too loose."

ILL-AFFORD

The Raptors can ill-afford to lose Marshall for any significant length of time. Then again, if the Raptors bench continues to play as well as it has been playing, who knows what this team can accomplish?

The Raptors' record improved to 4-1 with the victory, while the Jazz dropped to 4-1.

Bosh led the Raptors with 20 points, followed by Carter with 16. Top man for the Jazz was Raja Bell with 20 points.

Notably, the Raptors found a way to win despite the fact many of their key players were in foul trouble all night, not to mention the injury that rendered Marshall unavailable. Utah shot 35 free throws to only 15 by Toronto.

"A lot of those fouls, we committed," Mitchell said. "You can't blame the officials when we do dumb things."

On the whole, however, the Raptors were anything but dumb last night.

"You have to give Toronto credit, they played awfully well," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "They played hard, they played intelligent, they got the baskets right when they wanted them. They outplayed us right from the beginning of the game."

The Raptors' next game is in Seattle tomorrow night.


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