Raps scorch the Heat

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

MIAMI -- The standard has been set. The bar has been raised to a new level.

From here on out, the Raptors will measure all their efforts against last night's 114-82 thumping of the Miami Heat.

"As a team it's hard for us to play much better than we did (last night)," Raps head coach Sam Mitchell said. "Our defence was good, we rebounded the ball for the most part. We moved the ball. We made shots but we got great looks. We will be hard pressed to play much better than we did (last night)." Mitchell didn't care that the opponent was an undermanned Miami Heat squad.

Mitchell saw Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh turn down open looks of their own for better looks for their teammates.

He saw Jamario Moon going after rebounds. He saw tenacious team defence. He saw Anthony Parker and Bargnani, two reformed reluctant drivers going hard to the basket. Bargnani's baseline drive and reverse dunk in the first quarter had Mitchell airborne and pumping his fist.

And if anyone thinks Mitchell was seeing more than was there, it's exactly what Heat coach Pat Riley saw as well.

"Too quick, too efficient, too ready: That was Toronto in the first quarter," Riley said. "It was just an absolute basketball clinic. They had us back on our heals before we even knew what was going on. It was just right from the get-go. It was a very, very impressive performance on their part."

There were many points on the stat sheet for a Raptors fan to get excited about, but none bigger than the 31 assists they finished with, led by 10 from Jose Calderon.

When this team is rolling offensively it is the kind of rapid and continuous ball movement it showed last night that starts it all.

"No one is looking for assists but if you pass the ball once the next play is going to be for you. That's our team rule and we just tried to play and find the open guy," Calderon said.

Turns out the Raptors decision to come down to the warm Florida sunshine a day early was a very good move.

"Our guys were rested," Mitchell said. "They had a couple of days off, got a little sunshine, got a little warmth and it seemed like we had little more pep in our step (last night)."

It's no surprise either that once again the offence was led by the one-two punch of Bosh and Bargnani. Bosh led the team with 24 followed by Bargnani's 22.

When these two guys are on, the Raptors become a very difficult team to beat.

And if all that wasn't enough good news on a single night, the Raptors also saw the return of T.J. Ford for the first time in eight weeks following that scary fall in Atlanta.

Ford, who was a surprise just to dress for the game, wound up playing just under 17 minutes. Last night, he created for his teammates, scored when the opportunity presented itself and made a near seamless re-entry into the game he loves to play.


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