Perfection pays off for Bosh

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Chris Bosh will not leave practices until he makes 10 free throws in a row.

That attention to charity stripe detail paid off in a huge way last night at the Air Canada Centre.

On a night Bosh set a franchise record for free-throw attempts in a season (557), the Raptors star nailed two with 3.4 seconds left to rally Toronto to an improbable 97-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks before 17,023 delighted fans.

"I try to make 10 in a row here, try to put them together because that adds pressure," Bosh said of his practice routine. "You have to make 10 in a row before you leave the gym and that kind of puts a different perspective on it."

The Raps appeared en route to an uneventful loss when they trailed 94-78 with 5:41 left. But they reeled off 14 points in a row to make it interesting. After Bucks' Michael Redd scored on a driving layup, Mike James hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 96-95 with 34.5 seconds left.

The Raptors then made one of several big-time defensive stands and called timeout with 8.6 seconds left. Coach Sam Mitchell called for Bosh to get the ball and he drove to the net but was fouled by the smaller Bobby Simmons.

A better-than-80% free throw shooter, Bosh nailed both, then watched as a last-ditch Bucks attempt failed.

The Raptors entered the game 0-6 in games decided in regulation by three points or less in 2006, so this was a huge step in the right direction.

"I guess we're starting to grow up a little bit," James said. "You've got to learn from your mistakes, especially playing with so many young players. You've got to learn how to crawl before you can walk. Sometimes you crawl backwards before you crawl forward. That's what babies do. These are the type of wins that build character."

The Raptors won for the third time in the past four games, thanks in large part to Bosh, who took charge of the offence and scored a game-high 27 points on a night when the Raptors struggled with their shooting -- just 39% from the floor .

"We earned that one," Mitchell said. "We shot 39%. We've never won a game since I've been here shooting 39%. You've got to learn to do that in the NBA."

For 42 minutes or so, the Raptors looked pretty bad. But their perseverance impressed Mitchell.

"Win or lose, my thing was I was proud of them because they gave themselves a chance to win on a night they couldn't make shots," he said.

James and Charlie Villanueva, who both came to life late in the game, had 14 points apiece, while Simmons led the Bucks with 21.

Next up for the Raptors are road games against the New York Knicks on Tuesday and the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

REPORT CARD

B Offence: The Raptors were under 40% from the field much of the night. But they turned it up more than a new notches in crunch time for the win.

B Defence: The Raptors made some big stops down the stretch and prevented the Bucks from getting a shot off on the final possession.


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