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Raptors Ride Hot Start To Road Win Over Knicks

Related: Box Score | Photos
Video: Game In Six | Triano | Bargnani | Calderon | Bosh | DeRozan
More Video: Bargnani's Takes It In | DeRozan With The Left Hand | Amir's Monster Block
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January 15, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - The only thing wrong with Andrea Bargnani's night was his introduction.

The public address announcer said he was from Spain. Bargnani is from Rome, and he put on a show for ``Italian Heritage Night.''

Bargnani had 24 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Toronto Raptors get off to a sizzling start in a 112-104 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.

With the game featuring three Italian players being televised live in his home country at 2 a.m., Bargnani hurt the Knicks inside and out, making five three-pointers and shooting 9-of-13 from the field.

``It was a big game in Italy. They were doing the game live in Italy, so everybody in Italy was watching this game,'' said Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft.

``I was very excited about it because it was something special for me, too, because it's the first time three Italian players played together,'' Bargnani added. ``You want to look good, you want to do something good.''

He did, hitting all four three-point attempts in the first quarter and throwing down a powerful dunk that brought Toronto players on the bench to their feet.

``He was pretty aggressive coming out to start the game,'' Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. ``It was good for him to get himself going and establishing himself early.''

Jose Calderon matched a season high with 21 points, rookie DeMar DeRozan scored 19 and Bosh had 18 for the Raptors, who bounced back from consecutive losses and got back to .500 at 20-20.

Toronto shot 53 per cent and opened a 28-point lead that was trimmed to eight early in the fourth quarter before Calderon made consecutive jumpers and Hedo Turkoglu knocked down another to push it back to 14.

Al Harrington scored 31 points, Danilo Gallinari had 26 and David Lee finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists for the Knicks.

``They played extremely well. They are a very talented team, but we could've done better,'' Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``We just didn't do it for whatever reason. Seemed like we were a little bit tight for the first couple of quarters.''

With Bargnani and Marco Belinelli playing for the Raptors and Gallinari for New York, the game was a big event in Italy, home of the 2004 Olympic basketball silver medallists . D'Antoni was a star player and championship-winning coach in Italy.

``I'm just really happy to see a lot of Italian players playing in the league and I think there will be more,'' D'Antoni said before the game. ``It's fun and obviously it conjures a lot of great memories that I had.''

It wasn't any fun for him once the game started.

The Raptors made six of their first eight shots, then extended the lead to 24-8 after Bargnani drove down the lane for a powerful slam that brought Toronto's players on the bench leaping to their feet in celebration. Apparently annoyed, Lee threw one down about a minute later and jumped up and down right in Bargnani's face, bumping into him and drawing a technical foul.

Toronto led 39-20 after one and kept right on rolling in the second, making 17 of its first 27 shots. The lead ballooned to 56-28 on Calderon's three-pointer with 5:57 left in the half and the Raptors were up 67-43 at the break after shooting 59 per cent.

``The big thing is they came out shooting the ball unbelievable,'' Lee said. ``They were running guys 6-10, 6-11 like Bargnani. Calderon shot the ball great from the field. Those are the two that I would say hurt us worst. We came out and our jump shots weren't going down. It was a tough first quarter.''

The Knicks got back into it in the third behind 12 points from Harrington, whose three-pointer cut it to 89-80 with 32 seconds remaining before DeRozan scored the final four points of the period.

NOTES: A potential free agent in July, Bosh isn't thinking much about trade rumours, a potential contract, or any other concerns off the court. ``I just want to ... concentrate on playing basketball and address everything else when it's time to address it,'' he said. ``For now we're trying to get above .500. We have enough challenges as a team so I don't want to really take on any extra baggage right now because my plate is full.'' ... Belinelli was ill and did not play. ... Knicks centre Eddy Curry was inactive because of a sore left knee. D'Antoni laughed when asked how Curry, who hasn't played since Dec. 17, could have gotten hurt, then explained it probably came from how hard the centre has worked.