Bosh relaxing in Big Easy

Chris Bosh will take it easy at the all-star game in New Orleans. (SUN MEDIA/Craig Robertson)

Chris Bosh will take it easy at the all-star game in New Orleans. (SUN MEDIA/Craig Robertson)

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

Chris Bosh plans to take it easy in the Big Easy, no small feat for the Raptors' big man.

At a time when Bosh is expanding his game on the court and his profile off of it, he will take part in his third successive all-star showcase when the NBA's premier players descend on New Orleans today.

There will be the mandatory appearances to appease sponsors, the customary autograph signings for hoops fans and Sunday's all-star game.

But Bosh's mindset is to take things in stride and get ready for the start of the unofficial second half of the season, which, for the Raptors, begins next Wednesday with a home date against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

"I feel real good,'' Bosh said as he headed to Louisiana in the wake of a dominant performance against the undermanned and undersized New Jersey Nets on Wednesday. "I've got to keep it up. I've got a lot of support.

"I'm just trying to work every day, stay in shape and stay healthy."

It seems the only time opponents have any chance of slowing down the power forward is when Bosh nurses some kind of ailment.

He banged a knee in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, but Bosh came back to ignite a Raptors rally that fell short.

His jump shot is improving, his decision-making crisper, but more importantly Bosh has fully embraced his role and responsibility as the on-court face of the Raptors.

Against the Nets -- who played without star point guard Jason Kidd after the team agreed in principle to a blockbuster trade with Dallas, a transaction that ultimately was put on hold when Mavs swingman Devean George exercised a contract option -- the Raptors went inside early and often to Bosh.

With Bosh setting the tone and Jose Calderon controlling the game's tempo, the Raptors jumped out to a 30-17 lead after the opening quarter.

At one point, Toronto led by as many as 30 points in a game they never trailed in.

For the game, Bosh played an economical 35 minutes, scoring a game-high 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting. He converted 11 of his 13 attempts from the foul line, posted four assists and hauled down nine rebounds as the Raptors won 109-91.

"He has been our leader,'' Calderon said. "He leads by example because he works hard every day."

For Bosh, there is plenty of work ahead as he continues to deal with the constant double-teaming thrown at him by teams trying to get the ball out of his hands.

If there's one area Bosh needs to improve it's his ability to pass out of double-teams.

While improving, he hasn't figured out when teams come with an extra defender from different angles.

FINISH WITH INTENSITY

What makes Bosh's life a lot easier is when his teammates are knocking downs shots, forcing opponents to extend their defences.

"We're just trying to finish off with intensity,'' Bosh said. "We're just trying to play hard every day. It's paying off for us right now."

The Raptors enter the all-star break at 28-23 and are staring at a post all-star break replete with winnable games.

"We just want to come back rested in a week and that's when we want to make a run,'' said assistant coach Jay Triano, who served as Sam Mitchell's replacement against the Nets.


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