Bosh gains respect of Duncan

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

When Chris Bosh and Tim Duncan looked into each other's eyes, it was as if they were staring into a mirror.

Duncan won the first half, substantially. Bosh won the second half, substantially.

But in the end, it was Bosh's Raptors who won the game. Miraculously, they erased a 20-point deficit in the final 12 and a half minutes -- as Vince Carter sat on the bench, no less -- en route to a shocking 96-91 triumph against Duncan's San Antonio Spurs yesterday.

Bosh, 20, often has said he has modelled his game after Duncan, the 28-year-old phenomenon who already has won two NBA championships and two league MVP awards. But it's Duncan who walked away from the Air Canada Centre with a greater sense of respect for his protege.

"I've always liked him, he's a heck of a talent," said Duncan, who battled one-on-one with Bosh for most of the game, particularly down the stretch. "He's a great young kid. You can see how he has improved from last year to this year. He really has worked on some stuff. He's really confident with his shot."

'BIG AND LANKY'

Does Duncan see any similarities between the two?

"Big and lanky, yeah, I guess so," Duncan said with a chuckle. "He's really young, though. He has so much developing to do. He's going to be one heck of a player for years to come."

When told of Duncan's words, Bosh stopped just shy of blushing.

"Well, that's funny hearing that," said Bosh, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds. "It's from an all-star, a really good player. So that compliment really means a lot."

It also meant a lot to the Raptors that they were able to come back in such a dramatic manner against what many people believe is the best team in the NBA.

The Raptors had no answer for Duncan in the first half, as he amassed 21 points and 11 rebounds. But he was held to five points and four rebounds in the second half.

"That loss, I'll put that on my shoulders," said Duncan, who was being somewhat hard on himself for someone who had collected 26 points and 15 rebounds overall. "I had a bunch of (missed) layups (in the fourth quarter). I missed some free-throws. I had a dunk that Lamond Murray blocked. We had some chances to go back up by six and eight points, and kind of dampen their spirits. So I'll take that one on my shoulders."

The Raptors were able to come back in large part because they found a way to throw Duncan off his game. Bosh was the key figure, of course, but he was far from alone.

"I had the help of my teammates," Bosh said. "(The Spurs) only double-teamed me on the penetration, but when (Duncan) caught the ball, we came on him right away. We didn't want him getting his game off at all in the second half."

Bosh hasn't put on a lot of weight since last season, but he has got stronger. He could feel the difference yesterday.

"Last year, I remember (Duncan) leaning on me -- oh my goodness, it was crazy," Bosh said. "I really felt his strength. This year I was able to bump with him a little bit."

Actually, it was considerably more than a little bit.

"When we cut (the deficit) to 12, then got it to single digits, we thought, 'We can come back,' " Bosh said. "The next time I looked up, we were down two, and I said: 'Aw, we got 'em.' "

Duncan's Spurs still are the favourites to win the title. And Bosh's Raptors still will battle just to make the playoffs.

But if Chris Bosh manages to get a little bit more like Tim Duncan every day, the sky could be the limit for the Raptors' young franchise-player-in-waiting.

"His upside is incredible," Duncan said. "I'm really excited for him."


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