Raps offence helps kick start defence

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

PHOENIX -- How fitting the Raptors find themselves in Phoenix after rising from the ashes late Friday night.

Had the opponent not been the Clippers, Toronto's fate may have been different.

As it was, the Raptors came back from a 22-point deficit to clip the Clippers 104-89, tying the mark for the largest comeback in club history.

During one timeout, assistant coach Alex English looked at his beleaguered team and said it would somehow prevail.

During another, head coach Jay Triano reinforced English's words, which bordered on fantasy given how poorly the Raptors were performing.

"There was just a huge amount of confidence,'' Triano said with a straight face. "Alex told them we were going to win. I said it. I just had this feeling about it.

"More than anything, the guys showed there's no quit. They showed a lot of character."

When the night began, the Raptors showed very little of anything.

Shots weren't dropping, heads began to drop and there was absolutely no semblance on how to defend the Clippers, who made 15 of their first 20 shots from the field to lead 34-17 after the opening quarter.

But the Raptors persevered, got a huge boost from reserves Amir Johnson and Marco Belinelli, and trailed 54-45 at the break.

If anything, the Raptors have shown that once they start to make shots their energy level on defence switches on.

And shots they made as Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani caught fire in the second half, combining to go 13-of-20 from the field, including five-of-eight from three-point land.

Chris Kaman, who couldn't be stopped, was being defended more aggressively. Traps came to take the ball out of Kaman's hands and during stretches in the fourth quarter the Raptors threw another look at the Clippers centre by playing him straight up.

The Raptors outscored the Clippers 59-35 in the second half. They committed only two turnovers and held the Clippers scoreless in the game's final 6:58.

"It was very important for us to get that first win because this trip is very difficult,'' Belinelli, who ended the evening by scoring a season-high 15 points, said.

Had the Raptors not won, it's possible the team could have gone winless during this four-game swing.

The team is now relaxed and brimming with confidence.

As long as they play with energy on defence, there are enough shooters to give any opponent problems.

As long as Chris Bosh maintains his high level of play, the Raptors will be competitive.

Hedo Turkoglu's ailing left hip was evident each time he tried to cut or create.

He rode a stationary bike at yesterday's light practice and is questionable for tonight.


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