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The One They Needed

Mike Ulmer has worked for seven news organizations including the National Post and, most recently, the Toronto Sun. Mike has written about the Toronto sports scene for more than 10 years and has penned several books on sports and culture.

April 24, 2007

(TORONTO) -- Anthony Parker was recruited from Israel last summer to boost the Toronto Raptors.

Who better to help the trek to the Promised Land?

The soft-spoken veteran scored a game high 26 points and contributed sterling defence as the Raptors beat the New Jersey Nets 89-83 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarter-Final.

Parker was the Raptors leading scorer in Game 2. (Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images)
The series is now tied 1-1 with Game 3 set for Friday night in New Jersey.

For all practical purposes, the win guaranteed a meaningful series. A loss in Game 2 with the next two contests in New Jersey would have foreshadowed an embarrassing end to this most encouraging of seasons.

This was a game we had to have, Parker conceded. Now, we just have to go to Jersey and get one (win)."

The Raptors did a lot of things they failed to do in their shaky playoff opener. They reeled off 10 steals, including five from Parker. One of those was a momentum changing strip of Carter in the third quarter.

It was very satisfying to get the loose balls, the hands on the balls, the steals. I think its demoralizing for them, Parker said. They work hard to get a possession and a steal leads to a fast break.

There were enough heroes to go along. Mo Peterson came off the bench and earned 34 minutes on the strength of ferocious effort on defence. T.J. Ford had four crucial free throws late in the fourth and Chris Bosh carded 25 points and 13 rebounds.

But on a night built on defence, Parker was the difference. He was the fly in the face of Vince Carter, who endured his second sub-par shooting night on eight of 24 shooting. Carter finished with a modest 19 points. Parker also saw time on Richard Jefferson who hit just four of 16.

He is one of the most unheralded players in the game, said Jersey coach Lawrence Frank. One of the reasons they won the Atlantic Division was him. Hes a glue guy.

He was just great tonight, said Raptors coach Sam Mitchell. Defensively, offensively, scoring the basketball. He was unbelievable.

Bosh, fighting what he says is a bad cold, had only seven points in a sluggish first half that saw the Nets enter the intermission with a 36-33 lead.

Hes been sick, he didnt have the energy, said Mitchell who picked up his Coach of the Year trophy before the game from NBA Commissioner David Stern. When we needed him he stepped up. Indeed, Bosh had 11 fourth quarter points to lead the way.

Thats what everyone was telling me, it was time to take over the game, Bosh said. I knew I could get a jump shot anytime but I wanted to work on getting to the basket.

What the Raptors showed last night was grit. They did not shoot the ball well initially but in the fourth quarter shot 56 per cent, outgunned New Jersey 31-20 and scored 10 second second-chance points compared to four for the Nets.

We knew we werent going to quit, Mitchell said. We felt like we had figured out some things on how to attack their zone. I didnt see any panic.

Now, its the Nets who must search for answers.

Carter, 13 of 42 for the two games insists he can shoot his way out of his slump

Im getting the same looks. I feel good about it. I was shooting the ball long, which tells me I was shooting the right shots and shooting the, correctly, he said. They just didnt fall.

Parker, of course, has something to do with that. He had something to do with everything. Lawrence Frank is right. Parker is a glue player and Tuesday night, he stuck it to the Nets.