Bosh challenges mates

FRANK ZICARELLI

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

Chris Bosh embodies the label of franchise player like no other in the NBA.

He leaves everything out on the floor, sticks around to answer questions and is more than prepared to shoulder whatever load is being asked.

After watching his Raptors' late-game failure to execute, Bosh challenged his teammates to step up in crunch time.

Bosh, for one, is perplexed as to why players begin games with a focus and purpose, but somehow lose those edges when things get tough, as they did in yesterday's 109-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

"We just have to play basketball down the stretch because we don't worry about it in the first two quarters, so why worry about in the fourth,'' Bosh said.

"Doing the same things that got us success in the beginning are the things we don't do in the end.

"I know it gets harder down the stretch in games, but we should step our game up instead of taking steps back."

The issue of confidence was posed to Bosh in the wake of a loss that dropped the Raptors to 35-35.

"I hope not,'' he said. "I mean, not with me. It's too late for that and we are in the home stretch of the season. I hope we are not down on ourselves.

"We just have to get more confidence. Guys have to step up and make shots, get to the basket and make plays."

K-MART GETS HIS DUE

George Karl deftly shifted the attention from Denver's two leading men and scorers -- Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony -- by bringing up Kenyon Martin's defence on Bosh during his post-game gathering with the media.

"I think you're missing probably the guy I thought was MVP, Kenyon Martin,'' Karl said. "Kenyon Martin's defence on Bosh, whom they were going to on almost every possession, was incredible."


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