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Bosh, Raptors defeat Magic for fourth straight win

Feb 8, 2007 - 4:51 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- All-Star Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors are for real.

Carrying the load, Bosh dominated the interior, scoring a career-high 41 points and grabbing eight rebounds as the Raptors used stellar shooting en route to a 113-103 victory, their season-high fourth straight win.

Surprising Toronto remained 3 1/2 games ahead of second-place New Jersey - which held on for an 87-85 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday - in the lowly Atlantic Division.

"We've been finding ways to win and we just hope we can continue to find ways," Raptors guard Morris Peterson said. "Every night it's different guys but Chris carried us tonight. We rode his back, we rode (his) coat tail and he took us to the promised land. He did a lot of great things for us, and we fed off that energy from him."

In moving to three games over .500, the Raptors have a winning record for the first time since finishing 42-40 in 2001-02, the last time the franchise made the playoffs.

Toronto also has been outstanding at home, winning its last six contests here and posting a 17-7 record at the Air Canada Centre this season.

Much of the success can be attributed to Bosh, who will start for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game this month in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, he showed why the fans selected him into the starting five, shooting 13-of-25 from the field and 15-of-17 from the line.

"I wanted to get more aggressive," Bosh said. "I felt I was very passive in the first half. I was settling for jump shots and I didn't put much pressure on the defense, so I just wanted to come and attack the rim, try to get to the free-throw line and move the basketball."

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell thought Bosh took his matchup with star forward Dwight Howard seriously.

"Chris is learning," Mitchell said. "If you are going to post me up and it's going to be tough for me to guard you down there, I have to take you to an area where it's going to be tough for you. When he's making his jump shot and taking it hard to the basket, he is hard to guard."

Howard scored a career-high 32 points and added nine rebounds but was more impressed with Bosh's game.

"In the fourth quarter, he dominated," Howard said. "He didn't miss any shots, it seemed to me, and they went to him. He's the leader of the team, and that's what he's supposed to do."

The playmaking ability of Jose Calderon and backcourt mate T.J. Ford made it all possible, setting up Bosh for easy shots all night, including a pair of thunderous dunks off lob passes from Calderon. The guards each collected 10 points and 11 assists for the Raptors, who shot 52 percent (39-of-79).

"Another great game. I mean I've been playing well, but (Calderon and Ford) have been playing even better, getting the ball to the right guys at the right times," Bosh said. "We're trying to do a lot of good things and we've just got to keep winning. I feel like I am getting better in all facets of my game, not just scoring the basketball but making my teammates better."

The crowd certainly noticed, chanting M-V-P as Bosh attempted free throws in the fourth quarter.

"It made me feel good. It made me smile," Bosh said. "I hope (the fans) keep it up. It has really been helping me play well the past week. Yeah, it (probably was his most memorable night in the NBA) because of the chanting. I was telling people earlier, I was trying to be serious at the free-throw line when they were saying (MVP), but I had to crack a couple of smiles."

Rookie J.J. Redick scored a season-high 14 points for the Magic, who shot 51 percent (41-of-81) but committed 17 turnovers.

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