Raps reaching for .500

TORONTO SUN STAFF

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

The Raptors are on the verge of foreign territory.

A victory tonight over the Boston Celtics will give the Raps their first .500 or better record this late in the season since 2003.

"Getting to .500 means something for a team that hasn't been there in a while," coach Sam Mitchell said yesterday.

"It would be a huge accomplishment. Once you get there you have to try and get above it and keep winning basketball games. I don't get overly excited until we get to that point or get above that point."

The Raps' journey to the .500 mark was made much harder when they won just two of their first eight games.

The previous time the Raps were a .500 team this late in the season was Feb. 10, 2003, when they defeated Phoenix 101-94 to level their record at 25-25. They then lost their next nine in a row and were never close to .500 the rest of that season.

A .500 record last year was not in the cards after the Raps came out of the gate 0-9.

Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson are the only current Raptors who were on that 2003 team.

Bosh said the Raps have to be thinking beyond simply reaching .500.

"We haven 't had a winning record at this point in the season in a while, since my rookie year," Bosh said. "We have to start thinking about being in the upper tier of the Eastern Conference."

AROUND THE RIM

Bosh is the first to get on himself when he feels he isn't being aggressive enough going to the hoop. The Raptors' 105-84 win over Charlotte on Monda y was one of those nights. For the first time this year, Bosh did not get to the charity stripe in a game. Mitchell said he didn't have to mention it to Bosh. In Wednesday's 90-88 win over New Orleans, Bosh pumped in a season-high 35 points. He had 18 free throw attempts, which is a Raptors' season high ... If it seems like there has been a lot of talk about Jose Calderon of late, it's for good reason. In his past four games (two as a starter) he is averaging 15 points a game and 8.3 assists.


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