MoPete a force with Raps

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Mayor David Miller should have proclaimed a civic holiday yesterday -- a professional team in this city finally won a game.

The Raptors, losers of six straight heading into last night's contest against the visiting Boston Celtics, rode a strong effort by Morris Peterson, at both ends of the court, to post a 111-105 victory in front of 16,623 at the Air Canada Centre.

Peterson, who played the entire 48 minutes, picked up 27 points, shooting 9-for-17 from the field, recorded four assists, and was solid defending Boston star forward Paul Pierce even though the Celtics' forward picked up 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

"He battled," head coach Sam Mitchell said.

"He didn't let it be: Paul Pierce 33, Mo Pete 10."

A FIRST

The victory was the first for Toronto since the all-star break and the first since Bryan Colangelo took over as general manager and president, and improved the club's record to 21-38. Boston fell to 24-35.

Chris Bosh picked up his 26th double-double of the season with 24 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, as well as five assists. Mike James had 20 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, and six assists. Forward Matt Bonner had 15 coming off the bench, shooting 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. Shooting guard Wally Szczerbiak had 23 points and six boards for Boston.

Not that it was a walk in the park. The Raptors came within a hair of a late-game implosion yet again. Holding a 13-point lead with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter, Toronto allowed the Celts back into the game. With 1:02 on the clock, Pierce scored on a reverse layup, was fouled, and converted on the free to make the score 105-101.

At that point, James said the Boston forward began trashing-talking a little bit.

"He said, they were going to get a stop, he was going to score and then they were going to get another stop and then he was going to get the ball and hit a three-pointer to win the game," James said.

"I just said, 'You forgot one thing ... you forgot about me.' That's the thing I left him with."

With 26 seconds remaining, rookie forward Charlie Villanueva sealed it for Toronto when he hauled in an offensive rebound on a Jose Calderon miss -- a huge play for a team that has been lacking in late-game heroics.

"That's what it's about down the stretch, playing defence and getting rebounds," Bosh said. "We made our mistakes, just not as many as past games. We just have to have an attitude down the stretch."

Raptors centre Antonio Davis did not dress for the third game in a row because of a sprained lower back. Celtics starting guard Delonte West was forced to leave the game in the second quarter because of a strained right groin.

Eric Williams started for the second straight game, this time at centre, and again struggled. After picking up two points and, two boards and four fouls on Saturday in New Jersey, Williams picked up his fourth foul yesterday in the second quarter and finished the game with two points again.

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REPORT CARD

B+ Offence: The Raptors were deadly from three-point range, 11-for-24 and shot 54% from the field. Boston out-scored Toronto in the paint, 58-16.

C+ Defence: Allowed Boston to shoot 55% and pull in 32 rebounds, to Toronto's 28.


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