Raptors tough one out

Toronto Raptors' T.J. Ford (left) finds his way to the net past New Jersey Nets' Jason Collins...

Toronto Raptors' T.J. Ford (left) finds his way to the net past New Jersey Nets' Jason Collins during preseason NBA action in Toronto on Sunday. (Alex Urosevic/Toronto Sun)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

On an off day for normally consistent characters like Chris Bosh, the Air Canada Centre lighting staff and even the Raptors mascot, a couple of lesser-known human beings brought winning ingredients to the table.

The hard-nosed duo of P.J. Tucker and Kris Humphries shone brightly despite a seven-minute power outage in the downtown core in the fourth quarter, helping the Raptors improve to 3-0 on the pre-season with a 119-110 win over the New Jersey Nets yesterday.

Bad news came in the form of Bosh missing the game with a sore left heel (not considered serious) and guard Fred Jones leaving in the fourth quarter after a hard collision with Awvee Storey, causing a contusion of the base of his right hand that will be re-evaluated today. What's more, the Raptor went down with a lower-body injury after the ladder on which he was standing collapsed during a routine in the second quarter, hitting a young child in the head and sending the dinosaur to the vet.

RALLIED

But in the end, the Raptors rallied from a 17-point first- half deficit on a bit of a wacky afternoon, receiving key contributions from Humphries (11 points, 12 rebounds) and second-round pick Tucker (6-for-7 for 18 points).

"I thought our guys on the bench, P.J., Joey (Graham), Kris Humphries, Jose (Calderon), Jorge (Garbajosa), all those guys coming off the bench, I thought those guys just played exceptional," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "P.J. Tucker and Kris Humphries just bring energy and a little toughness, get us some loose balls and offensive rebounds."

While Humphries had opened eyes with his hustle and drive the past two games, the 6-foot-4 Tucker played limited minutes before yesterday and had not scored a point in the NBA. Guarding everybody from point guards to centres, Tucker defended with zeal and brought an equal amount of enthusiasm close to the net at the offensive.

"That's what I do," Tucker said. "I go from guarding Marcus Williams to guarding the centre, saw (7-foot) Collins a couple times. That's just how it is. I've got to be versatile and play a lot of people."

Mitchell refers to Tucker as the team's "Baby Mule," which apparently is a good thing.

"People try to put limitations on people," Mitchell said when asked about the undersized Tucker. "As long as you don't put them on yourself, you can't worry about it. Life is about proving people wrong. I'm sure he's heard because he's 6-foot-4, the past four or five years what he can and can't do. He just goes out and plays."

As for Bosh, Mitchell said he would have played if it was a regular-season game.

"It's just a precautionary thing," Bosh said. "It's a pre-season game. The doctors don't want to be worrying about how to get me right when the season starts."

After the seven-minute delay because of the lights, the next five minutes of the game were played in dim lighting while power returned to full strength. You only get these kind of delights during the pre-season.

Following the game, the Raptors released training camp invitees Cezary Trybanski and LaVell Blanchard, leaving just the 15 players with guaranteed contracts on the roster.


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