Marshall a hot shot

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

The Marshall rolled into this frigid town last night and laid down the law.

Coming off the bench, as he has done all season, Raptors forward Donyell Marshall nailed three three-point jump shots with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to pace Toronto to a 100-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center here in Minneapolis last night.

The win was Toronto's third in 21 road games this season and marked the first time the Raptors won in Minnesota in franchise history.

Marshall finished the game with six three-pointers in all and 22 points, 11 in the fourth quarter.

Power forward Chris Bosh recorded his eighth consecutive double-double, tying a team record set by Marshall in Feb. 2004. Bosh ended the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Toronto point guard Rafer Alston picked up a career-high 15 assists, including eight in the fourth quarter. He finished with 18 points.

"I want Rafer to frame that stats sheet, 15 assists, two turnovers and only three three-point attempts," said Mitchell, lauding Alston's decision making. "That's the thing we're trying to get him to understand and he's getting better at it."

Alson knows what is at stake.

"This is very important," he said of the victory. "This keeps us in the thick of things. Some teams continue to lose and if we continue to play hard and pick up wins like this, before you know it we'll be right in the (playoff) race."

TWO OUT OF FIRST

With the New York Knicks losing to the Chicago Bulls 88-86 yesterday, the 16-23 Raptors are now only two games out of first in the Atlantic Division.

The talk, as it always is before a Timberwolves game, centred around all-world power forward Kevin Garnett. And while Garnett did have a typically great night with 20 points and 14 rebounds, it was reserve forward Wally Szczerbiak who led Minnesota, picking up 25 off the bench. Garnett was in foul trouble early and had to sit with 9:48 to go after picking up his fifth foul, although he did return.

The Raps led by as many as 18 points in the first half and were ahead 58-45 with 24 minutes left, shooting 55% from the field. Alston and Bosh both had 12 while Morris Peterson, a huge underachiever on the road, produced zero points, shooting 0-for-2.

The second half started off with a bang as Alston picked Latrell Sprewell's pocket for a steal and easy layup, but then the Raptors began falling apart. Alston threw an alley-oop pass to no one and Peterson was stripped of the ball by Anthony Carter, leading to a basket. The Raptors then were nailed with two goaltending calls and Bosh turned the ball over, the gaffe leading to a Trenton Hassell layup. Four minutes into the second half the Raptors lead was only three points, 63-60.

Garnett hit a shot at the buzzer to end the first quarter, although the Raptors held a 30-24 lead. The Raptors play host to the New York Knicks tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre.


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