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Ford sparks Raptors to win over Bucks

Mar 13, 2007 - 6:06 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- T.J. Ford got off to a fast start, leading the Toronto Raptors to a franchise first.

Ford sparked a big run in the first quarter and the Raptors won the season series with the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time in franchise history with a 108-93 victory.

Toronto (35-29) is on the verge of winning its first Atlantic Division title. The Raptors' turnaround season can partly be attributed to the acquisition of Ford, a former Buck.

Ford scored 19 points and added nine assists and three steals against his former team. He wasted no time in showing Milwaukee what it was missing, scoring 12 points in the first quarter.

"That don't motivate me at all," Ford said of facing his former team. "What motivates me is what's in front of us, and that's the playoffs. We have to take our game to the next level and prepare for the playoffs. I'm just focused on my team and what we have over here. Milwaukee is in the past and I'm living in the present."

Toronto took control of the game with a 20-4 run in the opening period to open up a 34-18 lead. Ford scored eight points and handed out three assists in the spurt.

"He played well. We need T.J. playing like that," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "He and Chris (Bosh) played really well, especially after a back-to-back. They were assertive, and that's what we talked about. The guys felt good and came out ready to play."

The Raptors never led by less than eight after the big burst and coasted to their third win in four meetings with the Bucks this season.

"I thought that was probably our worst defensive half, effort-wise, all season," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "I'm very disappointed, very angry with our effort in the first half. I don't think you can explain it. You can play poorly and still have the effort, which I think we've done almost all season. But tonight, we dug ourselves too big a hole with our focus and effort defensively."

Bosh scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and rookie Andrea Bargnani added 12 points for Toronto.

"We came out and did a very good job starting the game," Bosh said. "Our intensity was great. If we can keep riding this wave and keep building momentum, we'll be in good shape."

Michael Redd scored 29 points and Charlie Bell added 25 for Milwaukee, which has lost four of its last five.

The Bucks' only lead was at 2-0 and they trailed by as many as 20 when Morris Peterson hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter to give the Raptors a 50-30 lead.

Milwaukee battled back to 95-87 on a layup by Bell with 5:03 to play. But the Bucks got no closer and the Raptors pushed the lead back to 11 over the next minute on a jumper by Bosh and a free throw by Anthony Parker.

"You have the tendency to be less aggressive in the second half," Mitchell said. "We knew they were going to make a run, but Chris made some big shots for us and Andrea made a big shot for us. Our defense tightened up. Your best players have to step up."

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