Raps look to journeyman

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- A journeyman took the Raptors on quite the journey last night.

Darrick Martin, who acts like an assistant coach during games, came through in place of an injured Jose Calderon in a big way, leading the Raptors to a come-from-behind 111-97 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

The veteran point guard had 18 points, 11 in the fourth quarter alone, along with 12 assists and two steals, posting his first double-double since March 11, 1999, when he played for the L.A. Clippers.

The victory marked Toronto's first two-game winning streak since Feb.12 and tied last year's season total for road victories with 11.

"It's about being a professional, being able to do your job when you're called upon and it's about staying ready," said Martin, who is averaging less than eight minutes in 31 games this season.

Martin, who is a positive influence in the locker room, admitted it's a difficult chore staying ready to play when the minutes are few and far between.

"It's very hard, because you can never simulate a game, even in practice, even in drills. Until you're actually out there on the floor, it's kind of hard to get the rhythm, with the adrenalin and having to guard a man in a live game," he said.

Another key to victory for the Raptors (23-41) last night was coach Sam Mitchell implementing a zone defence in the fourth. The ploy worked to perfection, limiting Philly (31-32) to just 12 points in the quarter.

"It gave them trouble because it stopped them from posting us up. They just kept posting us up in the third quarter and we had no matchups for them because of their size," Mitchell said.

Of course, nailing six three-pointers in the final 12 minutes of play helped as well. The Raps moved the ball well, picking up 29 assists and were energetic on defence. Toronto recorded 13 steals, five by Mike James, to Philadelphia's six.

The 76ers were without all-star Allen Iverson, who suffered a right foot sprain and contusion in Philly's last game against Memphis. Teammate Kevin Ollie also missed the game with a sprained right ankle. Forward Chris Webber supposedly was suffering from flu-like symptoms, but somehow found the energy to pick up his 30th double-double of the season, with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

For Toronto, rookie Joey Graham contributed 14 points off the bench, before sitting down in the fourth with a sore back, while Charlie Villanueva picked up a career-high 14 rebounds, and eight points, while Chris Bosh had 31 points.


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