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Bosh gets Raptors over .500 for first time since early 2004-05

Feb 3, 2007 - 4:19 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- After an eye-opening run in January, Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors were just as impressive in their February debut.

Bosh, who was the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for January, had 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as the Raptors moved over the .500 mark for the first time in over two years with a 103-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Morris Peterson added 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting off the bench for Toronto, which went 10-5 in January, its best month since posting an 11-5 record in January 2002.

"I think we played well. We responded to the challenge," Peterson said. "A lot of us have been playing well, we've won like seven of the last nine and we're one of the hottest teams in the East."

The 2001-02 season also was the last the Raptors were over .500 this late in a campaign. Toronto last was over the even mark when it began 2004-05 at 4-3.

"I think we're moving in the right direction," Peterson said. "We're happy about (being over .500), but we don't want to stop here. Right now, when a team sees us in first place in our division, we're going to be more the hunted than the hunters."

"Even though we are over .500, we are in first place in our division; we're still trying to get to the top of the East," Bosh said. "That's one of our goals coming into the season. In terms of record, we are in the lower half of the playoffs."

Joining Bosh and Peterson in double figures were Rasho Nesterovic, Anthony Parker, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani.

"It's getting unbelievable now. We trust each other, no matter what happens," Bosh said. "We're patting guys on the butt when they miss a shot. We're getting open shots and layups and moving the ball well. Everybody's playing unselfish basketball. That's what helps us a lot.

"We don't have to rely on me just to make plays. Sometimes I can draw a double team and we're going to have an open man. It puts a lot of pressure on their defense. We've grown a lot. We're getting a lot of confidence with each other and we've been playing well."

Bargnani, who was the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in January, added 11 points for Toronto. The Italian sharpshooter opened a 9-0 run midway through the second quarter with a 3-pointer.

T.J. Ford, playing in his second game following an ankle injury, capped the burst with a layup for a 46-29 lead with 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half. He finished with four points and 10 assists in 17 minutes.

"They trust, and they've bought into what (Toronto coach) Sam Mitchell's trying to do over there," Atlanta guard Tyronn Lue said. "When a team buys into what a coach is doing, it makes it a lot easier. Those guys are playing together and sharing the ball. It doesn't matter who scores for them. They just want to get wins, and that's what they've been doing as of late."

Toronto led by as many as 19 points, but Atlanta drew within seven in the fourth quarter.

"The first half, we just showed up and they were the team on the floor," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "We were just standing out there. They're starting to figure it out. They're a young team. Bosh really makes them go.

"We still had our chances. We cut it to seven in the fourth quarter."

Joe Johnson scored 28 points and Josh Smith added 26 for Atlanta, which had won four of its previous five.

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