Letters to the Editor

Raptors cast spell on Wizards

Raptors 116 Wizards 111

TORONTO (CP) — A blowout quickly turned into a nailbiter for the Toronto Raptors, but the end result was all they cared about.

Chris Bosh had 24 points and 15 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors exploited Washington’s porous defence, then held on for a 116-111 win over the Wizards on Sunday afternoon.

The Raptors (15-19) had a field day against the league’s worst defensive team, shooting 51 per cent from the field and outscoring the Wizards 40-28 in the paint on the way to their second straight win.

Despite the strong effort, Toronto still needed to fend off a spirited rally from Washington, which reduced a 22-point fourth-quarter deficit to five.

“They hit some tough, tough threes, we made some mental errors,” said Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell. “But you know what, our guys won the game against a good basketball team that’s been playing extremely well.”

Raptors point guard T.J. Ford had 20 points in his return from a sprained right ankle, while Anthony Parker added 16 and Joey Graham 15.

Gilbert Arenas, the NBA’s second-leading scorer, paced Washington with 33 points, while Caron Butler had 24 — 15 of them in the fourth quarter — and Antawn Jamison added 17. The trio entered Sunday averaging a league-high 70 points per game.

The Wizards (19-14) shot just 43 per cent in losing for just the second time in nine games, but they made a game of it thanks to a 26-9 run spanning over half the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t play bad, we just didn’t hit shots,” said Arenas. “We played well at the end, just forcing things, forcing turnovers, forcing bad shots.”

The Raptors entered the fourth quarter with an 84-70 lead, thanks to a 9-0 run late in the third fashioned mostly on driving layups. Toronto continued its hot shooting in the fourth, a Graham tip-in giving the Raptors a 24-point lead with seven minutes to go.

The Wizards chipped away, cutting the lead to five on a Butler three-pointer with 19.9 seconds left. That was as close as Washington got, to the delight of 17,981 at the Air Canada Centre.

“I’m happy,” said Bosh, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the second half. “We can’t be picky with our wins. I’m never picky about them.”

The mood was festive at Air Canada Centre as the Raptors celebrated Italian Day by giving away 10,000 Andrea Bargnani figurines. The talented rookie entered the game midway through the first quarter to a warm ovation, while about a dozen Italian flags flew in the crowd.

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