Raps take baby steps in win

Raptors' Antoine Wright, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani celebrate a play against the...

Raptors' Antoine Wright, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani celebrate a play against the Knicks on Thursday. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

NEW YORK — Jay Triano likes everything he has seen from his Raptors of late.

He would just like to see it some place besides at the Air Canada Centre.

As impressive as the Raptors’ climb into fifth place in the East has been — including two home wins over the Lakers and Heat as part of a three-game streak — Toronto’s eight road wins stick out like a sore thumb.

That was before Thursday’s roller-coaster game at MSG when the Raptors came out flat in the second of consecutive games and then dug in their heels for a 106-104 win over a stubborn Knicks’ squad.

“I don’t think we’ve been bad, but to be a good basketball team, you have to win on the road and in tough situations, such as this, back-to-back with a team sitting home waiting for us,” Triano said.

Not long after, the Raps delivered just their second sweep of consecutive games this season and delivered their Canadian-born coach his 50th win, with Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani digging hard for loose balls to settle the matter and a season-high 26 points from Hedo Turkoglu.

There are 15 NBA teams with as many or more road victories and Toronto had to get slapped around severely in the first quarter before it recovered the 16-point deficit. The Raps also were behind 11 after a quarter to Miami on Wednesday, before Bosh and Bargnani got moving and Sonny Weems helped put the clamps on Dwyane Wade starting for the injured DeMar DeRozan.

Thursday night, the Raps were a step behind and there even seemed to be bench confusion before Bosh missed two shots and shouted at the ball “get in the (expletive) basket”, before he ended the first half with a one-handed dunk. He later won a lengthy scramble for the ball with big Knicks rookie Danilo Gallinari.

With two minutes gone in the second half, it was a Bosh layup that gave the Raptors a 54-53 lead.

“There have been small steps through the course of the past nine games,” Triano said earlier Thursday evening. ”Different things that I’ve seen as far as our toughness getting better. We were able to play a tight game and hold a lead against Dallas, play a tight game against the Lakers and battle right through and not quit after being down by eight or nine or (Wednesday), not panicking after we got down 11 after one (quarter).

“There are signs we are trying to break through as a team with our toughness. I do like our team, I like the way we are starting right now.”

It was suggested to Triano that the big four the East (Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta and Orlando) could be expanded to five if his 25-22 team keeps up the pace after pulling ahead of the Heat.

“I look at those four as being very tough teams in the first half,” he said. “But I also look in the rear-view mirror and I think Chicago might be playing the best basketball out of anybody the past 20 games.”


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