Final - OT
  for this game

Bargnani hits game-winner as Raptors top Blazers

Dec 23, 2006 - 8:25 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- After the Toronto Raptors had a premature celebration in regulation, rookie Andrea Bargnani gave them a chance to let loose in overtime.

Bargnani drained a go-ahead jumper with four seconds left in the extra period and T.J. Ford collected 23 points and 10 assists as the Toronto Raptors picked up their second straight dramatic win, 101-100 over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Anthony Parker had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors, who shot 48 percent (43-of-89) from the field to vault into first place in the awful Atlantic Division.

Despite Bargnani sitting for most of the game, Toronto coach Sam Mitchell was confident he would respond when put in the game down the stretch.

"I told him that he can sit for 20 minutes and still come in and make the shot," Mitchell said. "You know what I told him? 'That's why you're the No. 1 pick and that's what we expect.'"

With the game tied, 90-90, at the end of regulation, Toronto held for the last shot. Ford missed a jumper and rookie Jorge Garbajosa tapped the ball in at the buzzer, setting off a mid-court celebration by the Raptors. However, after a review, it was determined the ball was tipped after time had expired.

"Hey, there is nothing you can do about it," Ford said. "We thought it was good and the refs decided it wasn't. That just means it's another five minutes of good basketball for the fans to enjoy."

With the Trail Blazers leading by one point in overtime, Toronto would not go away. Ford, who penetrated at will all night, knifed into the lane and dished to Bargnani, who drained a 20-footer with 3.5 seconds left.

"T.J. did a nice job of collapsing the defense and he swung me the ball and I was completely open," Bargnani said. "He knows that I can make the shot and it was a great pass, and again, I was completely open."

"Just playing basketball," Ford said. "There is no secret (to) what happened. Just drive and kick. That's just simple basketball and making the right play."

After Portland called timeout, Zach Randolph missed a jumper as time expired.

On Wednesday, Ford nailed a foul-line jumper as time expired as Toronto posted a 98-96 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Two nights later, he scored the first nine points in overtime and shot 11-of-23 from the floor.

"It was just me getting into that groove," Ford said. "Sometimes you get in the zone and I got into that zone. I wanted to see my team win and I think I came through."

"T.J. wanted the ball, and he started making some shots and made the key pass," Mitchell said. "I thought everybody battled and played for each other and as long as we keep playing with heart and just competing every night, good things are going to happen."

The first overall pick in this year's draft, Bargnani scored 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 from the line.

"I am happy because we won," Bargnani said. "I did not play at all up to the shot so I was a little nervous, but I am glad we were able to win."

Rookie Brandon Roy collected 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and Randolph added 20 points for Portland, which shot 44 percent (36-of-81) and had its five-game winning streak snapped.

"What else can you say, other than that is a tough loss," Randolph said. "I think we battled but had made just a little too many mistakes down the end. Ford kept breaking us down. He's quick, real quick, and that caused problems down the stretch for us."