Second-half rebound

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

NEW YORK -- The Raptors and the New York Knicks used to play far more meaningful games than the one they played last night.

But as far as the weary Raptors are concerned, wins this season rarely have been as satisfying as their 105-93 come-from-behind triumph over the New York Knicks before a bitter crowd of 18,907 at Madison Square Garden.

The win tied the mark for the second-largest comeback on the road in Raptors history.

The Raptors -- who had lost a tough home game to the Indiana Pacers the night before - erased what had been a 19-point deficit with a powerful 32-14 third quarter. Then the Raptors came back again in the fourth quarter after falling behind the Knicks by another seven points.

"The only thing we said (at halftime) was, 'We can't come into New York (and play so poorly),' " Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "You can get beat, but you have to come in here and play hard and you have to compete to the end. I didn't think our guys would quit."

Chris Bosh led the Raptors with 29 points while Jalen Rose added 25 points. Rafer Alston made only four of 16 shots from the field, but he chipped in with 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Alston, a product and staple of the New York streetball scene, hit a couple of big shots down the stretch after he had reduced the pressure of a 1-for-11 night by banking in a jumper high off the glass early in the fourth quarter.

"Jerome Williams (of the Knicks) said, 'Did you call that?' "Alston said. "And I said, 'I can't even call my free-throws right now.' "

As Mitchell observed, "You're always only one shot away from being on, and when (Alston) banked that one in, he got his confidence back."

Morris Peterson played some great defence while racking up 18 points and seven rebounds. His all-around game earned some special praise from Mitchell.

"These four or five games in a row that Mo has put together, offensively and defensively, it's the best I ever have seen him play," Mitchell said.

After going scoreless in the first half, Stephon Marbury scored 22 second-half points to lead New York. Amazingly, Kurt Thomas went scoreless in 26 minutes.

Eric Williams started for the Raptors, but he quickly suffered a strained right calf and left the game for good. He stayed in the locker room during the second half and will be re-evaluated today, but at first glance it didn't look particularly good.

The Raptors improved to 32-46 with the victory, while the Knicks dropped to 30-47. That means the Raptors have a game-and-a-half lead on the Knicks in the battle to avoid last place in the Atlantic Division, for those of you who give a damn.

Last night the Raptors gave more of a damn than the Knicks did.

The highlight of an energy-free first half was an argument between Mitchell and referee Bill Kennedy over whether Raptors assistant coach Jim Todd had cursed at Kennedy. "Yes he did," Kennedy yelled. "No he didn't," Mitchell replied, and it went on like that for an amusing 30 seconds or so.

Next up for the Raptors is the game their fans been waiting for: A visit from Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets to the hostile halls of the Air Canada Centre on Friday.


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