The Raptors came out wearing green, the St. Patrick's Day parade was going by across the street and even Patrick O'Bryant made an appearance.
But luck of the Irish had nothing to do with ending a seven-game losing streak yesterday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre, 110-87 over the Indiana Pacers, Toronto's largest victory margin this season.
The Raptors earned all of it, with a season-high 55 rebounds. Andrea Bargnani finally kicked the flu bug, supplying 27 points, there were 13 rebounds from Chris Bosh, a monster dunk from Shawn Marion in a vital third-quarter run and continued energy from Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who had a career day off of the bench.
"Obviously when we take the ball to the basket we're a better team," coach Jay Triano said as the Raps were in the Pacers' faces and went 28-for-36 from the free-throw line. "By the end of the first quarter, we hadn't been fouled once, but we ended up shooting 36."
Toronto was closing in on its longest losing streak since starting 2006-07 with nine straight losses. Another dreary day loomed for Bosh after a 1-for-8 start from the floor to make him 12-for-39 going back to Friday's loss to Detroit. But with Bargnani playing a full game, wearing green instead of looking green in the gills, Bosh was able to steady himself, going 5-for-8 the rest of the way. It was his key rebound that sustained a third-quarter run that included the soaring Marion dunk over Pacers' Danny Granger.
"It's a relief not only to win, but to play as well as we did," Bosh said. "That's the way we have to play (being so far down the playoff ladder), with our backs to the wall."
Triano joked that Marion must not be a morning person with his quiet first half, but The Matrix came to life with his big plays. The team was 2-9 since he came aboard at the all-star break.
"We were trading baskets at the time and it was a big one for us," Marion said. "We got some energy and took off."
Mensah-Bonsu, trying to find his feet again in the NBA after a few years playing overseas, had 21 points and came close on three or four dunks that resulted in fouls. He was 11-for-13 from the line and received a huge ovation from 18,169 at the ACC. But given how well the others played, including point guard Jose Calderon's 16th double-double of the year, Mensah-Bonsu was as much an exclamation point to the day as a catalyst.
"I'm grateful to Jay for the opportunity," Mensah-Bonsu said.
"I've finally got it and I'm taking (advantage of) it.
"Today it was Chris Bosh, Chris Bosh, Chris Bosh. I think he anchored us. I'm definitely going to bring the same amount of energy each game, but if I have to feed off somebody else, it's going to be that much more elevated.
"(Bosh) came in and he was rebounding, blocking shots and he was there offensively, too.
"Those were some of the (Marion) highlights I saw from Phoenix. They say he's getting old, but he's not."
The third-quarter series involving Bosh, Bargnani and Marion turned a three-point halftime lead into an astonishing 21 by the time the fourth quarter began. Second tier players such as O'Bryant, a seven-footer who used to play with the Boston Celtics, were called on to mop up at the end.
"If you start scoring inside, teams will collapse and it will start opening up perimeter shots and we have been very good lately," Triano said.