Better late than never

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

MINNEAPOLIS -- Taking care of business.

That's all this one was. It certainly wasn't crisp basketball.

In a game that meant a lot more to the Raptors than it did to the Minnesota Timberwolves whose playoffs hopes are between sliver-thin and none, the Raps didn't really get going until the fourth quarter but that turned out to be enough.

A season-best 38-point fourth quarter thanks in large part to a 13-point quarter from shooting guard Anthony Parker gave the Raptors a 111-100 win in a game that looked to be going against the Raps for most of the first three quarters.

"We just kept grinding," Mitchell said. "Our guys just have confidence and they just find a way to win basketball games."

The Raps didn't have a lead in this one until 31/2 minutes into the third quarter. That lead was short-lived and the Raps went into the fourth down by six.

This trend of starting road games slowly and turning things on in the second half has been dogging the Raptors for the past four away from the Air Canada Centre. They are 3-1 in those four games, the lone loss coming in Miami and they had a shot to win that one at the end.

Not having been bitten by this trend, Chris Bosh chose to look at this trend it as a positive.

"I think it shows our perseverance," Bosh said. "No matter how things start out we just grind it out. I think it's dangerous if you just come out going through the motions every day but we're trying to come out and be aggressive. Sometimes it doesn't work but the key is to stick with it."

Bosh though admitted the Raps left the comeback a little later than he and some others would have preferred.

"Guys started getting a little nervous, but we stuck with it," he said. "Jose (Calderon) made some big shots and (Parker) has been on fire the past couple of days and we need that from these guys."

Calderon said ball movement, that had been stagnant for three quarters, found life again in the fourth that changed the game.

T-Wolves coach Randy Wittman seemed to agree.

"It seemed like in the fourth quarter they couldn't miss any open shots," he said.

The win was the Raptors ninth in their past 11 games and gives them a 21/2-game edge on idle Miami for the third seed in the Eastern Conference which would guarantee the Raptors home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

It also moves the Raptors to 12 games above .500, tying the franchise high last reached at the conclusion of the 200-2001 season.

The Raps will take the day off today and then get two more days of practice before their next game Friday at home to Detroit.

In addition to Parker's second consecutive game leading the team in scoring, the Raps got big nights from their points guards. Combined T.J. Ford and Calderon wound up with 29 points, 17 assists and just three turnovers.

"What else can you ask from your point guards?" Mitchell asked.

The Timberwolves were lead by 28 from Ricky Davis and an impressive 17 from rookie Craig Smith.

---

REPORT CARD

C+ Offence: A dismal three quarters was overshadowed by a hugh fourth quarter when the Raptors struck for 38 while shooting a sizzling 75% from the field, missing just four of their 16 shots.

B- Defence: An off night shooting-wise for Kevin Garnett and some key stops in big moments of the game enabled the Raps to hang around until their offence came alive.


Videos

Photos