Elevating his game

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Chris Bosh started last night's game against the Atlanta Hawks a little out of sorts, missing his first three jump shots and fighting just to get into the flow.

But he had a pretty good excuse for not being up to snuff, at least early.

Bosh arrived at the Air Canada Centre about 45 minutes before the tip-off, about an hour later than usual, after being stuck in the elevator at his downtown condo for a good 50 minutes.

Fortunately for the Raptors, the all-star power forward found his groove, especially in the second half, leading Toronto to a 93-88 victory, the team's second win in a row.

"That kind of threw me off for the whole game," Bosh said of the incident. "Not for the whole game, but just for the little routine that I always do.

"Usually, I get here, I get my muscles warm, get warmed up, go out there and get some shots before we hear the pre-game speech and everything. I didn't have time for any of that. I got here and just got straight to the point," he added.

Bosh was a one-man wrecking crew in the second half, picking up 20 points and eight rebounds, to finish with 30 points -- the fourth time in the past six games he has reached that mark -- and 10 boards, along with seven assists and three blocks.

Perhaps his biggest play came with 3:53 left and the Raptors holding an 86-80 lead. Bosh took an alley-oop pass from Jose Calderon, attempted the layup while steering the ball towards the basket, missed it, but out-wrestled three Hawks for the rebound. He then scored the layup going backwards, picked up the foul and scored the free throw for the nine-point lead.

But then the Raptors began settling for jump shots, which allowed the resilient Hawks to claw back to within three points (91-88) with 39 seconds left. Bosh then grabbed a huge rebound on a Marvin Williams miss with 16 seconds left on the clock, ending Atlanta's comeback hopes.

Not bad for a guy who, just a couple of hours before, thought he might not even make it to the arena. In retrospect, Bosh said the experience was illuminating, as he sat 28 floors above the ground.

"I sat and reflected on life. Just chilled. I was in there with two people -- strangers. We have got something to talk about now," he said. "The dude was like: 'A lot of people would be happy to be in this situation right now.' But he was cool. We got through it," Bosh said, adding that the elevator door was slightly open, so everyone was calm.

"You could see out. I tried to (open it.) But my superhuman strength wasn't on today," he said with a laugh.

Jason Kapono scored a season-high 16 points off the bench, while Joey Graham had a second strong game off the bench, picking up 11 points and five rebounds.

The bench was big for Toronto, with 33 points (a season high) and 16 rebounds.

Point guard Michael Bibby led the Hawks with 24 points while centre Zaza Pachulia, in for an injured Josh Smith, had a game-high 17 boards.

"I thought all our guys battled," Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said. "We had some guys knicked up and we just found some ways to make some plays and made some shots at key times. The main thing was we got stops when we needed them."

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REPLAY

BETTER SAFE

Chris Bosh wore a brace over his right knee yesterday as a precaution. Bosh has had problems with the knee in the past, but decided to wear the brace only recently in response to what happened to Jermaine O'Neal last Friday. O'Neal suffered a strained left knee -- sitting out his second consecutive game last night -- and said the brace he was wearing saved him from a possible season-ending injury.

FREE FORM

Jose Calderon has made 43 consecutive free throws dating back to last season. Steve Nash was the previous player to start a season with 40 consecutive free throws when he made 53 to open the 2007-08 campaign for the Phoenix Suns. Chauncey Billups holds the Toronto team record with 51 consecutive free throws during the 1998 season.


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