They may not be starters, but Donyell Marshall and Jalen Rose appear to be solid finishers.
The Raptors veterans, both of whom have expressed their unhappiness with coming off the bench, elevated their games down the stretch last night to lead the team to a big divisional win.
Rose and Marshall combined for 26 points during the fourth quarter and Chris Bosh set a franchise record with his ninth consecutive double-double as the Raptors beat the New York Knicks 98-81 before 16,613 at the Air Canada Centre.
With their third victory in a row, the Raptors (17-23) tied a season-high win streak and moved to within one game of the reeling Knicks (17-21) for third place in the terrible Atlantic Division. The Raptors remain two games behind the division-leading Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
For ex-Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens and his faltering Knicks, it was the eighth loss in their past nine games.
"I think you've got to give our teammates and coaches credit for putting us in a situation to make plays and knock down shots," said Rose, who scored a game-high 24 points, helping the Raptors bench outscore the Knicks reserves 57-25. "Fortunately for us, the plays were working and the shots were going down.
"The hardest thing about our situation is you've got to stay into the game when you're in a situation where you might not play a quarter or play limited minutes ... Being a veteran, you have to find a way to stay ready mentally and physically. That's probably what we probably have to credit ourselves with more."
The Raptors stepped up in a big way in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Knicks 38-20. Marshall, for the second game in a row, was deadly from three-point range. He hit all four of his attempts from beyond the arc in the fourth, including one on a sweet long pass from Rose.
As for Rose, he is averaging 11 points in the fourth quarter during the past four games.
"They (Marshall and Rose) were great," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "Everything ran through Jalen. We were searching for someone to score. Chris couldn't get it going and we kept going to different people, trying to get a more offensive lineup in there. To our guys' credit, the guys we kept in the game for offence were playing defence so I left them out there."
Bosh finished with 14 rebounds and 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting. While his shooting was off, he still picked up the double-double. He also made the highlight reel with a vicious followup dunk on a Rafer Alston missed shot in the first quarter.
"I'm proud (of the record), but once you say I broke a record, you can get caught up in that and the next game it's done," Bosh said. "I want to stay humble and make sure I keep doing what I'm doing because something is working."
Bosh stayed aggressive, despite his shooting woes, going to the line a game-leading 10 times. The Raptors shot 37 free throws and made 28 of them. They also hit 10 of 20 three-point attempts, as compared to 2-of-16 for the Knicks. The Raptors have hit 10 or more triples in each of the past six games.