Raptors hang around

Celebrating a basket, Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh plays his first game after coming back from...

Celebrating a basket, Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh plays his first game after coming back from injury on Wednesday night. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

Chris Bosh and Steve Nash went toe-to-toe in the final two minutes of play last night.

But, despite an amazing, near-comeback performance by Bosh and the Raptors, Nash and the Phoenix Suns escaped the Air Canada Centre with a 100-98 victory.

Bosh entered the night having missed 12 consecutive games with a bruised left knee, but did not miss a beat, picking up 26 points and 14 rebounds, along with four assists, for his 16th double-double of the season.

Nash, the pride of Victoria, B.C., started slowly, but rode a big fourth quarter to a 15-point, nine-assist effort and added four rebounds.

The gutsy Raptors squad was without the services of two starters, point guard T.J. Ford (sprained right ankle) and forward Jorge Garbajosa (sore right calf).

"It felt good being back on the court," said Bosh. "I picked up where I left off."

The Suns dominated for much of the game, but on the strength of big fourth quarters from Bosh and backup point guard Darrick Martin, the Raptors fought back to take a couple of late leads.

DRIVING LAYUPS

Bosh made two impressive plays with less than a minute and a half to play in the game hitting a pair of driving layups. On the second, he was fouled and hit the free. But any momentum the Raptors might have had as a result of those plays was tempered by a three-pointer by Nash after Bosh's first layup.

With 43 seconds on the clock, Bosh was slapped with a foul on Nash in three-point territory. Nash calmly walked to the line and nailed all three for a 97-95 Suns lead, despite most of the 20,063 on hand (the fifth-biggest ACC crowd ever) booing him.

Nash then scored on a 15-foot fade-away jump shot with 11 seconds left to put Phoenix ahead by four, and the Suns held on for the victory.

"That's why he's the two-time MVP," said Martin. "If he missed that shot, we could have taken control of the game. That shot was so huge for them. It put them over the top."

Nash certainly wasn't his normal explosive self in the first three quarters, but he was big when it counted, picking up 13 points in the fourth quarter.

"He wasn't really hurting us that much scoring," Bosh said of Nash. "Until the last (two minutes). But that's what he does. He's an unselfish basketball player, but when it's his time to step up (he scores)."

The Raps, who have now lost three in a row, are home to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and head coach Sam Mitchell is hoping for the return of either of his missing starters, possibly both.

"But it's part of the NBA," Mitchell said. "There is no point complaining if our guys are injured. Every team has injuries. You've just got to try find a way to hang in there and win some games and we've done that."

Anthony Parker had 16 points for the Raps while rookie Andrea Bargnani picked up 17 off the bench.

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REPORT CARD

B- Offence: For the second game in a row, third-string point guard Darrick Martin was the floor general for a strong fourth-quarter push. But in the end, the Raptors didn't have enough to finish off the Suns.

B- Defence: Stepped up in a big way for most of crunch time, but Chris Bosh's foul on Nash while he attempted a three loomed large when all was said and done


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