Raps make Jersey pay

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell played down suggestions that his club was hungry for revenge last night against the New Jersey Nets.

It was, after all, the first time the two Atlantic Division rivals had met since Jersey defeated Toronto 98-97 in the sixth and deciding game of their opening-round playoff series last May 4.

But Mitchell insisted that last night's game was just that -- a game, no more or less important than any other.

Yeah, right. It was obvious that his players were much more pumped than usual for a regular-season contest, especially one played in early November.

The Nets jumped out to an 8-2 lead at the half-empty Izod Center, but the Raptors, showing that they do indeed have long memories, ceased the momentum in the second and third quarters and cruised to a ridiculously easy 106-69 victory. It was the second largest margin of victory in franchise history, the largest margin of victory on the road, the fewest points allowed on the road and second fewest points allowed.

"That adds a lot to it," Bosh said, when asked if his team used the playoff loss as motivation. "We did lose here in the playoffs and that (played) into it."

Bosh nailed a 70-footer just as the buzzer sounded at halftime, after intercepting a Jason Kidd pass, to put Toronto ahead 56-41 and effectively suck the life out of the Nets.

"I think that kind of sparked us a little bit for the (second) half," he said of the shot.

"I was just happy it went in."

At one point in the third quarter, the visiting side led by 31 points, prompting a chorus of boos from the stands.

"It was a good win for us, but it's Game 2 and we've got 80 more to go, so you take it for what it's worth, you're happy that your team is starting to do some of the things this early that you've been talking about," said Mitchell. "But we have to go home and get ready to play (tomorrow)."

The win was the result of, more than anything, solid defence and the strength of Toronto's bench.

The Nets have a Big 3 in Richard Jefferson, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, not to mention talented big man Nenad Krstic, one of the best starting lineups in the Eastern Conference.

But if those four don't carry that team to a big lead, the Nets are in trouble, and that's precisely what materialized last night as the Raptors' bench out-scored Jersey's 29-3 in the first half, and tipped the momentum squarely in Toronto's favour.

The win improved the Raptors to 2-0 on the season and dropped Jersey to 1-1. The Raptors shot 51% from the floor and held Jersey to 37%. Toronto also shot 12-for-22 from three-point range, with seven different players nailing threes.

Second-year NBAer Andrea Bargnani continued his impressive play as the team's starting centre, scoring 21 points with six rebounds, while staying out of foul trouble. He also went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.

Bosh, who played limited minutes in the pre-season, was on the floor for 28 last night, and came through with 15 points and five rebounds. Starting point guard T.J. Ford picked up eight points and seven assists while Jose Calderon had 10 and eight in relief of Ford.

Carter hit the 15,000 point plateau against his former team, reaching that mark in 623 games, third fastest among active players behind Shaquille O'Neal (547 games) and Allen Iverson (557). He scored 9,420 of those while a member of the Raptors.

The one bright light for New Jersey was the play of Jefferson, who led all scorers with 27 points.


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