The man the Raptors call Hump helped them get over exactly that last night.
Despite trailing for most of the game against the Eastern Conference-leading Detroit Pistons, and by as much as 15 points in the third quarter, the Raptors rode a career-game by Kris Humphries to defeat the Pistons 87-84.
A Toronto win or a Miami Heat loss now will guarantee the Raptors third place in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Raps have three regular season games remaining while Miami has two.
Last night, in front of a sell-out crowd at the Air Canada, Centre, it appeared as if the Raptors were going to take a step back in their plan to peak for the playoffs. But a huge fourth quarter, which saw Toronto outscore Detroit 29-15, extending their home winning streak to six games.
The Pistons, who have already clinched first-place in the East, nailed their starting five to the bench for the entire fourth quarter, but head coach Sam Mitchell said that didn't diminish the performance of his team, especially the efforts of Humphries, Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker and T.J. Ford.
"Humphries and CB were unbelievable on the boards and that's what won the game for us," the coach said.
Humphries, who has brought a ton of energy off the bench to the Raptors in the last few weeks with rookies Andrea Bargnani and Jorge Garbajosa out of the lineup with injuries, grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds, including nine offensive boards, along with eight points. He also posted a career high-tying three blocks. In fact, he was the only Raptor who picked up any blocks.
"It's just hustle," said Humphries, who had eight rebounds in the fourth quarter. "The ball came my way tonight."
Bosh finished with 16 rebounds and 18 points for his franchise record 10th consecutive double-double. Ford added 13 points and 10 assists improving the Raptors' record to 15-5 when he produces a double-double.
Parker scored 21 points, with seven boards, including a huge 26-foot banked jump shot just before the shot-clock sounded, to put the Raptors up 81-79 with 1:44 left in the game, the first lead for the home side since late in the first quarter, a lead the Raptors did not give up.
"I just knew I had to get it off and, when I did, I was trotting back thinking it's on line, I think it's going in," Parker said. "Thank God, it went in."
Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 24 for the Pistons, who threw the Raps for a loop by going into a zone defence for much of the game.
Both teams shot under 40% from the field and the Raptors outrebounded Detroit 52-47.
B- Offence: The Raps shot 37% from the field and 6-for-17 from three-point range. Their bench was out-scored by Detroit's 38-20.
B+ Defence: The Raptors defenders kept Detroit to 39% from the field and a miserable 5-for-17 from three-point range.