Bosh sets franshise scoring record in win over Spurs
TORONTO-Standing in the locker room, game-worn jersey slung over his shoulder, game shoes in hand, Chris Bosh wore a satisfied smile.
On an evening where his Toronto Raptors managed to withstand a late push from the San Antonio Spurs and hang on for the 91-86 victory, it was a special day for Bosh himself.
At the 1:39 mark of the third quarter, a 16-foot jump shot by Bosh allowed him to jump over Vince Carter as the franchise's all-time points leader.
While the Spurs threatened late and the game came down to who could make their free throws, Bosh was relieved his milestone came in a victory.
"That was the best part," Bosh said of the win in which he led his team with 22 points and 15 rebounds. "I was thinking it would be really nice to set the record and everything, but I wanted to win as well. That was the main focus of the whole day and that makes it that much better."
A reserved player when it comes to individual accolades, he said he was keeping his game jersey and shoes, acknowledging the significance of the achievement as a testament to the effort he's put into his game and his team over his NBA career thus far.
"I've been putting a lot of hard work into this franchise and it's starting to pay off," Bosh said.
While the Raptors were without starter Hedo Turkoglu, who was battling upper respiratory issues, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich brought Tim Duncan off of the bench, saying he wanted his star fresh for the fourth quarter after he had played big minutes the night before in Washington.
It was just the second time in Duncan's 929-game career that he hadn't started a game.
"I played in the Western Conference for thee years and Coach Popovich is a quirky guy," said Raptors guard Jarrett Jack when asked if the move surprised him. "He might do things just because it's Tuesday. Coach Pop is just a quirky dude."
With Duncan out of the lineup to start the game, Tony Parker was the only Spurs player able to hit anything, shooting 6-for-7 from the floor in the opening quarter while the rest of his teammates combined to connect on just 3-for-17 attempts.
When Duncan came into the game early in the second quarter, his team trailed by 10 points and their struggles on the offensive end continued as the team went 9:20 minutes without a field goal, allowing the Raptors built up a 14-point halftime advantage.
The Raptors led by as many as 17 points in the third before San Antonio began mounting their comeback in the final quarter.
After shooting just 37 percent through three, the Spurs connected on 11-for-21 field goals in the fourth while outscoring Toronto 31-24. What they could not correct, however, were their free throws. With the game on the line down the stretch, Duncan missed four free throws and the Spurs as a team missed five in the quarter, the point differential in the game.
"Our problem was that we didn't knock down shots," Popovich said. "We shot the same number of free throws. They made 24 out of 27 and we made 16. In a way, that's the ballgame right there."
While Parker started out on fire, he scored just two points in the fourth quarter, finishing with 23 on the night. Despite sitting the first quarter, Duncan finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but wasn't happy with mental mistakes and missed free throws.
"We kept making enough plays to put ourselves right back into it and every time we made a play to get right back into it, it seemed like we either made an offensive foul or we missed something easy or we missed free throws," Duncan said. "We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot."
While Andrea Bargnani had a rough shooting night from the floor, he still finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Jack added 16 points to go along with eight assists. With the victory, the Raptors improved to 11-5 at the Air Canada Centre.
Jack said the loss to a depleted Celtics team the night before hadn't sat well with anyone in the Raptors locker room.
"I don't think anybody had a good taste in their mouth after what happened in Boston," Jack said. "We definitely wanted to come back here and redeem ourselves."
The win was a big one for the Raptors before they head to Orlando, where a win against the Magic would move the Raptors back to .500.
For the rest of Sunday evening however, Bosh was content to reflect on his big day.
"This is the position you want to be in. ...I've been really blessed to be a focal point and I think that's really cool," Bosh said. "It's crazy that it's actually happened because I've dreamt about it so much. I'm living a dream."
A dream Raptors fans hope continues past the summer of 2010.
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