Raps stop the bleeding

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY -- It took a game against the Hornets to take the sting out of what was a horrendous statistic for the Toronto Raptors.

Heading into last night's game at the Ford Center, the Raptors had lost seven straight road games this season and 14 consecutive going back to the 2005-06 campaign. All the way back, in fact, to March 21, 2006, at Madison Square Garden, when they beat the New York Knicks, 114-109.

But behind the inspired play of Chris Bosh, the Raptors, now 5-9 on the season, finally managed to extricate the primate from their back with a 94-77 victory over the Oklahoma City Hornets.

"It was a big monkey," Bosh said, with a laugh.

Despite hobbling along with a sore right knee, Bosh was large, picking up 19 points and 14 rebounds, and coming up huge in the third quarter when the game was still on the line. And the Raptors managed the win even with starting point guard T.J. Ford struggling with a nasty bunion on the big toe of his right foot, largely because of the play of the team's second unit, which scored more than 40 points for the second straight game.

Last night, Jose Calderon, Joey Graham and rookie Andrea Bargnani combined for 43 points off the bench.

The Raptors also were sharp defensively, keeping the Hornets to under 42% from the field, while out-rebounding their hosts, 42-41.

CONFIDENCE

"I think right now our guys are playing defence with confidence, they're talking," head coach Sam Mitchell said. "The last five games, we've held teams under 44% and if you do that you're going to give yourself a chance to win, regardless how you shoot."

The contest featured a match between two of the NBA's top young point guards in Chris Paul of the Hornets and Ford and it was Paul who rose to the forefront, picking up 11 assists and 16 points to Ford's three assists and two points. Ford shot 1-for-7 from the floor. With Ford struggling, his backup, Calderon, played much of the second half and picked up 13 points, three rebounds and four assists.

Rookie forward Andrea Bargnani put together another solid game with 16 points and four rebounds, including a spectacular dunk in the fourth quarter on a nice bounce pass from Rasho Nesterovic.

On top of the win, another positive aspect of last night's game was the one-sided score enabled Mitchell to rest both Bosh and Ford for much of the fourth quarter.

Veteran point guard Darrick Martin got on the floor for the first time this season.

17 BOARDS

Tyson Chandler was a killer on the boards for the Hornets, pulling in 17 rebounds. The Raptors face the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center this evening before returning home to play host to the Boston Celtics on Friday.

REPORT CARD

B Offence: The Raptors went to the line 20 times and had five players score in double figures.

B+ Defence: The Raptors held the Hornets to 42% from the floor and out-rebounded their hosts 42-41. They also forced the Hornets to commit 16 turnovers.


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