for this game

Ford, Raptors outlast Timberwolves

Dec 28, 2006 - 4:34 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Despite his stellar play, T.J. Ford nearly cost the Toronto Raptors by breaking one of the game's cardinal rules.

Ford scored a season-high 28 points and handed out seven assists and Anthony Parker added 19 points as the Raptors held off the Minnesota Timberwolves, 100-97, for their third win in four games.

Rookie Jorge Garbajosa collected eight points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, which shot 52 percent (41-of-79) from the field and picked up the victory despite missing three free throws in the final 26 seconds.

"It's one thing if (the free throws) just come off funny and don't feel good but those felt pretty good and just rattled around," said Parker, who missed two with Toronto leading by four with 26 seconds left. "I was really disappointed because I had a chance to ice the game at that point. But I told myself I'll get a chance to redeem myself and thank God that chance came along."

However, the Raptors were able to overcome their woes at the line with their home crowd in a frenzy down the stretch.

"We need to take advantage now that we have a lot of games at home and we have been playing well at home," Ford said. "We just have to keep pressing and playing hard. As long as the game is close, everyone in this locker room has confidence that we're going to win."

In the midst of a career season, Ford entered Wednesday's contest averaging 15.9 points and 8.3 assists to spark the Raptors, who are in first place in the awful Atlantic Division.

"As long as the game is close and the ball is in my hands, I think my teammates have a lot of confidence in me and they believe I will make a play, either for myself or the next person," he said.

Ford was 12-of-18 from the field.

However, he almost cost Toronto by committing an egregious error in the waning seconds. Ford fouled Timberwolves guard Mike James as he attempted a potential game-tying 3-pointer with eight seconds left, coming down hard across James' wrist as he rose for the shot.

"I tried to foul him before he got the shot off, but obviously they didn't see it and he ended up getting the 3-pointer off," Ford said.

With Toronto trailing, 98-95, James could only nail two of the three free throws.

"Instead of putting pressure on them and sending it into overtime, I missed one of my free throws," James said.

After two foul shots by Parker made it 100-97 with seven seconds left, Kevin Garnett missed a fadeaway shot from the arc as time expired on the game's final possession.

"We had our opportunities to win the game and that's all you can ask for but a loss is a loss," Garnett said.

Garnett had 24 points and nine rebounds and James, a former Raptor, added 20 points for the Timberwolves, who shot 47 percent (37-of-78) and had their two-game winning streak snapped.