No Bosh? No problem for Raps

Toronto Raptors' Antoine Wright is congratulated by teammates after hitting a buzzer beating shot...

Toronto Raptors' Antoine Wright is congratulated by teammates after hitting a buzzer beating shot against New Jersey. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. In the 53 games the Raptors had played without Chris Bosh prior to Friday, they had managed to win just 17.

Granted, the opposition was the New Jersey Nets, who have managed just five wins all season, but for a night anyway the Raptors proved they can get it done with the big man out of commission temporarily.

The surprising thing wasnt that they got the win but who stepped up to help make it happen.

That would be Rasho Nesterovic who got the start in place of Bosh who remained in Toronto nursing his sprained ankle and helped the Raptors to a 105-89 win.

Nesterovic, a pros pro if ever there was one, always seems to be ready to answer the call regardless of how much or how little he has been playing.

In this case it had not been a whole lot. Nesterovic has had only one game since Dec. 20 in which he has had more than six minutes of court time, but you would hardly know it from Friday night.

Nesterovic, who was in there first and foremost to make Brook Lopezs night difficult, not only pulled that off but became an offensive force.

Looking like he has been playing extended minutes the entire season, Nesterovic was knocking down mid-range jumpers, finding cutting teammates and pulling down rebounds like he had been doing it all season.

Nesterovic wound up playing just over 26 minutes, his longest stint of the season. The only game that even came close was that blowout in Atlanta on Dec. 2. He finished with 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting, a team-high seven rebounds, and four assists just for good measure.

From a less surprising standpoint came the offence provided by the Raptors potent point-guard duo of Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon.

Jack, who had an off night on Wednesday as he team returned from the all-star break, found his pre-break form and finished the night with 18 points and 10 assists, both team highs.

Calderon, who led that charge by the Raptors bench in the Memphis game on Wednesday, finished just behind Jack with 16 points.

Another Raptor enjoying a comeback night after an off night Wednesday was Hedo Turkoglu.

Maybe it was the fact that he ditched the mask he finds so uncomfortable a few minutes into the game. Or maybe he has been able to get a better handle on that family situation back in Turkey.

Whatever the reason, Turkoglu was much more effective, finishg the night with 14 points, six boards and six assists in a game the Raptors were in control of for much of the night.

The Nets got the deficit down to just a six-point difference after the Raptors had been up as much as 20 in the latter stages of the third quarter but could not sustain the pressure.

Raptors head coach Jay Triano wisely took a timeout to settle things down and out of that timeout the Raps scored the final five points of the quarter to get the lead back up to double digits.

They didnt look back again.


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