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Raptors End Preseason With Win Over Knicks In Montreal

Related: Box Score | Game Rap: Raptors End Preseason On A High Note
Video: Game Highlights | Jay Triano | DeRozan 1-on-1
More Video: The Block & The Bucket | Calderon To Johnson | The Andersen Shake | Evans Dunk
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October 22, 2010

MONTREAL (CP) -- There's considerable debate in this country whether or not there is one hockey team that has fans from coast to coast to coast and which can rightfully be called Canada's team.

But for Jose Calderon, Friday night provided further proof that case is closed when it comes to the nation's hoop squad.

Andrea Bargnani scored 15 points to lead a balanced Toronto Raptors attack in a 108-103 pre-season win over the New York Knicks on Friday night in front of a packed house of 22,114 at the Bell Centre.

``We feel like our team is different because we have the whole country behind us,'' said Calderon, who had 11 points and six assists in just over 16 minutes of floor time.

``During training camp in Vancouver, tonight here in Montreal, I think it's great. It makes us different, it's not local fans, they're from everywhere from the East to West. We feel that love everywhere we go. We're happy to be part of Canada's team.''

Bargnani also went 3 for 4 on three-pointers, while David Andersen, Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza had 12 points apiece for the Raptors, who completed the pre-season with four wins and three losses.

Amar'e Stoudemire scored 24 points in only 26 minutes, while national team member Andy Rautins scored five points in 22 minutes for the Knicks (3-4) in his first professional game on Canadian soil.

But Rautins hopes it's not his last.

``It felt good, the place was electric,'' Rautins said. ``Toronto has some of the best fans and it was great to see them supported in Montreal. Being a Canadian it's fun to be able to play in front of this crowd. I hope I get to play in Toronto, too.''

It was the final pre-season game for both teams, who will face each other again in Toronto on Wednesday night for the regular season opener at the Air Canada Centre.

``Actually, I don't like that at all,'' Bargnani said. ``I don't think the schedule makes sense that you play the last game (of the pre-season) and the first game that counts against the same team. But that's the schedule.''

It was the first time the NBA visited the city since 1990, when Charles Barkley's Philadelphia 76ers faced the Washington Bullets at the old Montreal Forum.

The venerable hockey arena was about three quarters full for that pre-season game, but scalpers outside the Bell Centre on Friday were looking for people selling tickets just a half hour before tip-off.

And the crowd was largely behind the ``home'' Raptors, with little evidence of a trickle-down effect of the hated hockey rivalry between the Canadiens and Maple Leafs.

The crowd was just over 800 more than the 21,273 capacity for a Canadiens game and they hung on every play, even though the quality was considerably lower than what is normal for an NBA contest. Routine behind-the-back passes drew a reaction, and every dunk was met with a thunderous roar.

``I want to say thank you to the fans, they were phenomenal,'' Raptors head coach Jay Triano said. ``To come out and support us like that and have as much energy as they did, our players fed off that. Our players enjoyed playing here and hopefully we'll be able to come back here.''

In the wake of star Chris Bosh's free-agent departure, the Raptors have displayed a balanced attack the entire pre-season, with seven players averaging double-figures in points entering Friday night and Barbosa leading the way at only 13.9 points per game.

It was no different in this game with seven Raptors in double figures _ with DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems joining Bargnani, Barbosa, Andersen, Calderon and Kleiza. It's something Triano says Rapotors fans had better get used to.

``I think that's going to be the M.O. of this team, our second unit is going to give us energy and they did that tonight,'' he said. ``I think that energy is going to make us a team that's going to make us tough to play against.''

Ahead 62-45 at halftime, Toronto's lead was steady until midway through the fourth quarter when former Raptor Roger Mason Jr. drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to six, 92-86.

But Toronto responded with a 10-2 run, fuelled by a Weems running hook and three-pointer.

The Knicks put on a full court press in the dying minutes and used a late run to cut the lead to 104-100, but two thunderous dunks by Julian Wright in the final minute helped the Raptors pull away and brought the house down to send the fans home happy.

Both teams played their starters for much of the first quarter, and Stoudamire quickly showed why the Knicks handed him a US$99.7-million, five-year deal in the off-season. He scored 13 points in the opening 12 minutes on 5-of-6 shooting to keep New York down by a point, 27-26.

``He's a lot better than when I left Phoenix, he's really gotten better,'' Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said of his star forward. ``He's athletic, obviously, but just his leadership and his desire and his focus is off the charts. He was really good, obviously, with us -- he was first team all-NBA -- but I think he's even better now.''

Both team's benches came on the floor in the second quarter and the Raptors pulled away, with Barbosa scoring 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the second to lead Toronto into the half.

Notes: The Raptors were without F Ed Davis (knee), while the Knicks were missing C Eddy Curry (hamstring) and G/F Kelenna Azubuike (knee). . . Win Butler, the lead singer of Montreal-based indie rockers Arcade Fire, was sitting courtside.