Raptors play short

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

In the end, the Raptors came up short by going small.

In one of those typical NBA games that aren't decided until the final two frenetic minutes, both the host Raptors and visiting Wizards went small, spreading the floor and trying to essentially out-jump shoot each other.

It made for some dramatic and entertaining moments, momentum shifts, lead changes and ultimately heartache for the Raptors.

It was so close that overtime was required, a five-minute stretch when Washington made just enough shots, stops, retrieved just enough misses and converted from the foul line to escape with a thrilling 110-106 win.

"It was a tough game, a tough way to lose,'' Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said.

The Raptors had Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Carlos Delfino on the floor late in regulation and into the five-minute overtime.

An ill-advised Bargnani foul on Antawn Jamison with 30 seconds left and the Raptors down by two was one of those mental lapses that don't show up in box scores, a mistake Jamison converted into two made free throws.

Despite the brain cramp, Bargnani bounced back from his mauling in Miami to pace the Raptors with his game-high 27 points in playing a career-high 48 minutes and 25 seconds.

"We weren't supposed to foul,'' Mitchell said. "We knew if we were to get a miss, we would have got the ball back.

"Those things happen sometimes, even to veteran players."

The night marked the fourth successive game the Raptors played minus their franchise player and go-to guy, Chris Bosh, who remains sidelined with a swollen right knee.

Officially, Bosh is listed as day to day and barring some medical miracle, he'll be unavailable for tomorrow's matinee against Kevin Durant and the Seattle SuperSonics.

Moreover, it's looking more likely that Bosh will miss the team's coming five-game foray to the West.

While many lips remain sealed, there are growing whispers that Bosh may have suffered some form of injury to his cartilage.

Bosh has stated he will not return until he's pain free.

In any event, the Raptors are learning to play without Bosh, whose presence is sorely missed.

With a healthy Bosh in the lineup, the Raptors show more of a swagger, a much-needed edge and a legitimate post presence who at least commands double teams.

Needless to say, the Raptors could have used Bosh against the Wizards, who were pasted by 39 points when they ventured into the ACC on Jan. 30.

"(Toronto) is a playoff team,'' said Jamison, who has battled back woes recently. "They know how to play without Bosh and they definitely know how to come back."

Washington led by as many as 11 first-half points, but handled the rock like a hot potato as the Raptors converted 22 Wizards turnovers into 31 points. A 16-0 third-quarter run, fuelled by a Moon block, got Toronto back in the game, but it could never get over the hump.

Without Bosh, the Raptors rely even more on their jump shots. When they can't control the boards, they become even more vulnerable, a deficiency Washington capitalized on.

"We just couldn't make shots,'' Moon said of the Raps, who began shooting five-of-21 from the floor and ended the game hitting just 39% of their shots.

Up next is the youthful Sonics, who beat today's expected snow storm by arriving into Toronto last night following their game in Philly.

"It's really important for us to go (on the road) with a win,'' Calderon said.

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REPLAY

FOUL MOOD

The jump-shot happy Raptors weren't exactly attacking the basket. In fact, no starter was able to get to the line until Anthony Parker drew a foul in the third quarter. Until then, only reserve centre Primoz Brezec had attempted a free throw.

YOUNG, ATHLETICS

Wizards guard Nick Young showed off his hops by flushing home a driving dunk in the second quarter. The basket restored Washington's lead after the Raptors tied the contest, 35-35. The dunk would trigger an 18-10 run Washington used to take a 53-45 lead into the break.

START ME UP

Darius Songaila is one of those hoopsters every NBA team would like. He doesn't demand touches, but Songaila can nonetheless be impactful. He made his fifth start of the season against the Raptors, who had a difficult time matching his energy.


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