NBA.com Daily Confidential

The Toronto Raptors were in last place in the weak Atlantic Division on Friday. They could be in first with a win over the struggling New York Knicks Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Despite a 6-10 record, the Raptors enter Saturday's game one-half game behind division leader New Jersey (6-9), which hosts Philadelphia Saturday. A Toronto win, coupled with a New Jersey loss, would put the Raptors atop the NBA's worst division.

``We have to take advantage of the position we are in right now,'' Toronto forward Chris Bosh said. ``A lot of people look at the Atlantic Division and put labels and tags on it, but it's early in the season. We just have to try to separate ourselves from the rest.''

Bosh scored 25 points and had 11 rebounds in the Raptors' 106-102 win over the visiting Boston Celtics on Friday. Point guard T.J. Ford had 10 points and added 13 assists.

The Raptors shot a season-high 55.3 percent Friday, only the second time this season they've shot better than 50 percent from the field.

Toronto started 2-8 this season, but has since won four of its last six. However, to win a second straight game and possibly take the division lead, it will need to win on the road for only the second time in 10 tries.

This contest begins a three-game road trip for the Raptors, who also have a four-game western swing in late December.

``We have to take advantage of this stretch against the East before we head out west again. We got to get as close to .500 as we can,'' Ford said.

Bosh, the team's leading scorer at 20.8 points per game, could be a key Saturday against the Knicks. The fourth-year forward averaged 27.0 points in four games against New York last season - three of them Raptors victories. He had 31 in the last meeting, a 114-109 Toronto win on Mar. 21.

The Knicks (6-12) look for only their third win in nine games Saturday. They also will try to snap a three-game losing streak at the Madison Square Garden, where they are 1-6 this season.

Eddy Curry scored 24 points for the third straight game and Jamal Crawford, the team's leading scorer at 16.6 points per game, had 18 off the bench in New York's 108-100 loss at Detroit on Friday.

The Knicks' starting backcourt of Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis continues to struggle. The two guards combined for 23 points on 7-for-22 shooting as New York searches for team chemistry.

``We're just starting to come together and play as a team, and (the Pistons) have been doing it for a long time,'' Curry said. ``We gave ourselves a chance to win, but in the end they just made too many shots.''

New York could not stop the Pistons from shooting 11-for-22 from 3-point range.

``It didn't have anything to do with bad defense,'' New York coach Isiah Thomas said. ``They have some shotmakers, and their shotmakers made shots. I'm proud of how our team played, but this is a tough building to win in, especially when they are clicking on all cylinders.''

New York's only home win this season came Nov. 15, 102-82 over Washington.


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