Raps smell like a Rose

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Chuck Swirsky has three jobs -- afternoon radio host, Raptors television play-by-play man and personal motivator for Jalen Rose.

With one statement on his Fan 590 AM show, the Swirsk fired up the red-hot Rose.

With forwards Lamond Murray (upper respiratory infection) and Donyell Marshall (sprained right wrist) out yesterday, Rose stepped up and scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Raptors to a 103-92 win over the expansion Charlotte Bobcats at the Air Canada Centre.

"I heard (Swirsky) say a couple of weeks ago Rob Babcock would be the GM of the year if he could find a way to trade Jalen Rose," the veteran guard said.

"That kind of sparked me to go out and play with a chip on my shoulder and have some fun regardless of what happens."

Despite being unhappy coming off the bench, the highest-paid Raptor is thriving in his reserve role. Rose, a subject of countless trade rumours, is averaging 11.2 points in the fourth quarter during the past six games.

The veteran capped a lead-changing 11-0 fourth-quarter run with a three-pointer and then dished off a key pass to Morris Peterson for another three that basically sealed it. It was the fifth home win in a row, tying a season high, for the Raptors, who are an Atlantic Division-best 15-5 at home. The Raptors are 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Philadelphia 76ers.

"Once again, Mr. Clutch (Rose) came through for us and provided some big plays," said Peterson, who scored a game-high 26 points.

"Jalen did a good job at carrying us, but guys moved the ball well in the second half and that was also one of the keys of the game. Jalen is our go-to guy. This is his (11th year), he's been to the NBA finals and we'll ride his coattail ... He's got something a lot of players don't have and that's heart."

He's also got the fans on his side. When Rose entered the game, he received a Matt Bonner-like ovation from the crowd of 14,196. Rose also seems to be having fun, as he was waving the Raptors mascot's arms in the air at one point.

"The crowd always loves me and I give the same love back to the fans," Rose said. "I think a lot of the things probably said about me in a negative light doesn't come from the fans. It comes from people who don't know me or never been around me or never played with me."

So why do people support Rose?

"Probably because I'm not a hermit," Rose said. "I'm out moving around, shaking hands, kissing babies ... I'm not the type of person you can't see, can't touch or can't talk to."

The Raptors (18-24) outscored the Bobcats (8-29) 26-12 in the fourth quarter to take control.

"I thought our guys got into the game in the second half," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "They picked it up and realized that's a good basketball team over there."


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