Chris Bosh was outstanding in his return to the Toronto Raptors' lineup. Andrea Bargnani will try and follow suit.
After getting a boost from Bosh, the Raptors hope to have Bargnani on the court for the first time in five games as they open a tough stretch on the road Tuesday night against the upstart Atlanta Hawks.
Bosh, who is averaging team highs of 18.9 points and 8 rebounds, had missed five games with a strained groin. He returned Sunday and had 21 points and 10 rebounds as Toronto beat Houston 93-80.
It was the first win in three games for the Raptors (11-10), who went 2-3 without their star.
"I want everybody to play with confidence," said Bosh, who added four blocks. "That's the major thing that I saw was missing when I was out. It's not about what I bring to the table, it's about us feeding off of each other and making each other play hard."
Andrea Bargnani, a strong perimeter player who benefits from Bosh's inside presence but has been bothered by a knee injury, practiced for the first time in more than a week Monday. If he plays against the Hawks, it will mark the first time the Raptors have had Bosh, Bargnani and point guard T.J. Ford together in the lineup since Nov. 20.
"The knee is getting better every day," said Bargnani, the top overall pick in the 2006 draft. "I practiced normally and it was feeling good. I can try to play, we'll see (Tuesday)."
The 6-foot-10 forward is averaging 11.9 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 45.2 percent (28-for-62) from 3-point range.
This is an opportune time to get healthy for Toronto, which is on the road for nine of its 11 games between now and the end of the calendar year. The Raptors have lost their last three road games, and have not won away from home since beating Memphis 95-89 on Nov. 21.
Toronto's faces an Atlanta (10-10) team that has won three straight games for the first time this season, and is 7-3 in its last 10 games to climb back to the .500 mark. The Hawks are led by Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, who combined for 49 points in a 98-87 win at Orlando on Monday night.
"This win is real big - just for us to get to .500," said Smith, who had 25 points, a season-high 16 rebounds, four blocks and five assists. "I have been on this team since day one, when we won 13 games (in 2004-05)."
Smith had 26 points and 12 rebounds on Feb. 2 in the last meeting between Toronto and the Hawks, which the Raptors won 103-91 at Atlanta. Toronto has taken two straight games in the series and seven of the last 10 matchups.
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