Raptors pick up Bosh

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- Who needs Chris Bosh?

For one extremely rare evening, the Raptors claimed victory without their all-star anywhere near his best.

Buoyed by clutch efforts by their four other starters, the Raptors overcame an off night from Bosh and extended their winning streak to three games with a 98-94 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night at the Target Center.

Mike James, Charlie Villanueva, Morris Peterson and Antonio Davis should take a bow. All of them elevated their games with Bosh hounded by the intense Kevin Garnett and double- and triple-teams.

"Chris probably had the worst game he's had all year and it's going to happen," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said after Bosh scored a season-low eight points with just six shots from the field, the first time he has been held under 10 points since March 23, 2005.

"All the good ones have bad games. But his teammates just picked him up. To his credit, he didn't try to force anything. Sometimes you've got to let your teammates play and do what they do."

What his teammates did was win a basketball game. Villanueva, a big small forward adjusting to the new position, showed why Mitchell put him there when he posted up on the smaller Trenton Hassell and made a big hook shot with 42 seconds left to put the Raptors up by four.

After the Timberwolves cut the lead to two, James drove the lane and made a huge layup. Then, with the lead back at two, James sealed it with a pair of free throws. James was spectacular, too quick for the Wolves point guards and too good with his long-range shot. He finished with a game-high 27 points. Peterson had 20, Villanueva had 20 and Davis had five key rebounds.

Bosh could only smile while recalling his rocky night.

"I was battling down low and I was wondering why they're not passing the ball," Bosh said. "I asked them and they said, 'Look there are three people around you, I can't pass the ball.' I said, 'Okay, I understand.' I told the other guys: 'Make plays.'"

They did just that as the Raptors (20-32) swept a home-road back-to-back, which started with a win over the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night.

Garnett easily won his battle with Bosh, going for 23 points and a Raptor-opponent season-high 19 rebounds.

But it was the Raptors supporting cast -- and let us not forget Jose Calderon with 11 points and little-used forward Eric Williams with a season-high eight -- that stole the show.

"It definitely shows this team's character," Peterson said.

"We had our best player getting double-teamed. But the other guys stepped up. We can't expect Chris to score 20 and 10 every night. Most nights we need him to do that. (Last night), I thought, the other guys did a great job."

The Raptors' final game before the all-star break is tomorrow night in New York against the reeling Knicks.


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