Ford in the driver's seat

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

PORTLAND -- T.J. Ford did everything but pilot the Raptors' charter airplane to Seattle following last night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The diminutive point guard carried the Raptors on his back in overtime last night, scoring nine points as the Raptors stole yet another dramatic victory in the final seconds.

On top of his late-game scoring prowess, Ford found Andrea Bargnani with 3.5 seconds left in OT and the rookie came through, nailing a 20-foot jump shot from the right corner as Toronto defeated the Trail Blazers 101-100.

It was the second straight game Toronto has won it with a last-second shot. On Wednesday, Ford hit a 16-foot jump shot as the buzzer sounded against the Clippers in Los Angeles for a 98-96 win. Toronto has now won two of three on this trip.

With the win, the Raptors (12-15) moved one-half game ahead of the New Jersey Nets for the lead in the Atlantic Division.

Ford and Portland's Zach Randolph exchanged clutch shots in OT last night. Randolph finished with six points in extra time, 20 overall, and seven rebounds. The dynamic pair exchanged key baskets as 15,220 fans at the Rose Gardens lived and breathed every last second.

Ford was fouled with 32 seconds left in OT but missed one of two free throws to bring Toronto to within one point. With Portland leading 100-99, Blazers rookie Brandon Roy missed an eight-foot jump shot with 8.5 seconds on the clock to give Toronto the ball. Ford then found Bargnani, who nailed a long two.

The win was especially satisfying as the Raptors thought they had it won in regulation. Jorge Garbajosa tipped in a Ford miss to give what could have been a 92-90 Raptors victory as the buzzer sounded, or so they thought. The officials ruled it to be scored within the time limits but a video replay ruled that the game had ended before the basket was scored -- forcing overtime.

Ford finished the game with 23 points and 10 assists for the double-double. Six Toronto players scored in double-digits.

MAGLOIRE WAS STRONG

Toronto native Jamaal Magloire , who had an intense physical battle with Rasho Nesterovic in the fourth quarter, was huge on the boards for the Trail Blazers, pulling in 15 rebounds.

It certainly wasn't all candy and roses for Anthony Parker, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds for Toronto.

Parker had a tough night, twice going down hard after being fouled, the first time by Magloire, who hit the Raptor in the head as Parker drove to the basket, and then in the third quarter by Randolph as he came down from a shot. Parker was good on all four free throws.

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REPORT CARD

B Offence: The Raptors shot 48%.

B- Defence: Portland out-rebounded Toronto 46-33


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