Another team effort for Raptors with win over Minnesota

Chris Bosh found himself in a shoving match with Brian Cardinal late in the first quarter of Tuesday's game against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

Chris Bosh found himself in a shoving match with Brian Cardinal late in the first quarter of Tuesday's game against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

Bosh had been preaching intensity to his teammates, and whether or not that exact moment was what turned the tide on an ugly game, it seemed to kickstart the Raptors en route to a 118-110 win over Minnesota, Toronto's 10th consecutive victory over the T'Wolves.

"We had to realize nice guys sit home and watch the playoffs," Bosh said. "If we play with intensity, you're more likely to win and you're more likely to play better basketball.

"Be intense, just get the job done, no excuses. If you're tired, suck it up and keep playing basketball until we win."

Bosh and Andrea Bargnani scored 26 points apiece to top Toronto (23-36), which beat Minnesota with a balanced offensive onslaught. The Raptors doled out a season-high 34 assists, and six scored in double figures, with Anthony Parker finishing with 24 points, Jose Calderon adding 15 points and 13 assists, Jason Kapono finishing with 11 points and Shawn Marion scoring 10 points and adding eight rebounds.

"Anytime you run like that different guys are going to get the basketball, you don't have to run plays for specific guys. We're sharing the ball a lot better," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "It's our number of possession, because we run, and we're being unselfish.

"The players are starting to get it a little bit, we're starting to move the basketball."

Randy Foye had 25 points to top the T'Wolves (18-38), who suffered their eighth loss in nine outings. Ryan Gomes added 23 points.

The Raptors were coming off one of their highest scoring games in nearly a month, beating the New York Knicks 111-100 on Sunday. But they stumbled through an ugly first quarter and fell behind by as much as 16 points early in the second, prompting boos from the Air Canada Centre crowd.

The scuffle between Bosh and Cardinal late in the first earned both players technical fouls.

"I don't accept people yelling in my face, I don't do that to other people and I don't do that in return," Bosh said. "If people want to take it there, that's fine, I've played like that all my life, I'm going to turn it up.

"If guys do that, I hope they're ready to handle where it's going to go."

The Raptors, who were making their last appearance at the ACC before departing for three games out west, came to life in the second, outscoring their visitors 27-19 and finally grabbing the lead early in the third. Toronto took an 84-82 advantage into the fourth.

"You can't drop the gloves so sometimes incidents like that spark a team," Triano said on the Bosh technical.

The T'Wolves, however, remained within striking distance until the final few minutes of the game, trailing by just three points with just over three minutes to play. But a stretch of plays that started with a putback basket by Parker, and ended with a Parker three-pointer - with a big block by Bosh on a shot by Mike Miller in between - put Toronto up by 10 points and the game out of reach with 1:49 left.

Bosh was playing in his third contest after missing five with a knee injury, and this was definitely his best. But Triano cautioned it may be another couple of games before Bosh has his game legs back.

"I still see a little bit of lift lacking, but he certainly didn't lack any lift on that block at the end, that was a great play," Triano said. "He's working his way, and tonight was another huge step, he had more minutes when he was more productive."

Added Bosh: "I feel like it, my legs are tired. It's good, I'm getting back into a rhythm, it comes with playing more basketball. It was like a track meet out there."

The Raptors shot 54 per cent on the night to Minnesota's 50 and outrebounded their guests 39-36. But it was the assists that came with moving the ball that had the players most pleased.

"When you're involved and you're touching the ball and you're making plays, it just gives you confidence, it gives you aggressiveness on both ends of the floor, and the next thing you know you're talking, you're clapping, you're trying to get the crowd involved," Parker said. "I think it was night and day from the first quarter on."

The Raptors came out flat against a hot-shooting T'Wolves team, and fell behind by 12 points on a three-pointer by Foye less than seven minutes into the game. Minnesota would stretch its advantage to 14 points on 60 per cent shooting before ending the quarter up 37-25.

The Timberwolves took a 16-point lead midway through the second but found another gear, going on a 17-2 run to pull within a point two minutes before halftime. The T'Wolves were up 56-52 at the break.

The Raptors finally took their first lead since early in the game 2 1/2 minutes into the third when Parker stole the ball off Telfair and finished with a driving finger roll. The Raptors stretched their lead to six points before taking an 84-82 lead into the fourth.

NOTES: Joey Graham left the game in the third with a right hamstring strain. . . The Timberwolves have not won in Toronto since a 108-97 victory Jan. 21, 2004. . . . Toronto's ninth win over the Timberwolves was a 110-102 victory Feb. 10 in Minnesota. . . Toronto's longest streak of victories against one opponent was 16 wins over the Chicago Bulls from 1999 to 2002. . . The Raptors are at Phoenix on Friday and visit Dallas and Houston before returning home to host the Miami Heat on March 6.

 
 
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