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Lightning-quick Ford sparks Raptors over Knicks

Mar 15, 2007 - 5:01 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Point guard T.J. Ford had a lot of options against the New York Knicks.

Ford scored 18 points and tied a career high with 18 assists, and All-Star Chris Bosh converted a huge follow shot in the waning seconds, as the Toronto Raptors used hot shooting en route to a 104-94 victory over the Knicks.

Rookie forwards Andrea Bargnani and Jorge Garbajosa scored 18 points apiece for the Raptors, who shot 51 percent (35-of-69) from the field and 12-of-20 on 3-pointers.

"(Ford) was breaking down the defense, and we kept getting sucked in," New York coach Isiah Thomas said. "The three-ball really hurt us tonight. (Toronto) did a good job and I think a lot of times got the best of us, but 3-point shooting really hurt us."

The lightning quick Ford was the catalyst as he got the ball to numerous wide-open perimeter shooters. He entered the paint at will, getting extra minutes after a foot injury to fellow floor general Jose Calderon, who left with 6:28 left in the first quarter.

"When Jose went down and AP (Anthony Parker) went down we had some different lineups on the court," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "I thought our guys adjusted well."

Ford was 5-of-12 from the floor and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line but did most of his damage kicking the ball out to Bargnani and Garbajosa, who combined to shoot 13-of-24 from the field, including 8-of-13 from the arc.

"Guys are making shots and it's my job to find them," Ford said. "I was finding the open guy. The things we were doing was working for us, the pick-and-roll was the key for us tonight."

Bosh thought his teammate put on an unparalleled performance.

"He's (Ford) had spectacular games, but this has been the best out of all of them," Bosh said. "It's kind of scary as the season goes on. He's getting better and better, and I can't wait to see how he plays the next game."

But the Knicks were still hanging around in the final seconds. After Steve Francis' free throws cut the deficit to six, New York then forced Ford into a tough shot, but Bosh converted an athletic tip-in to make it 100-92 with 30 seconds left.

Trailing, 50-44, entering the third quarter, the Raptors outscored the Knicks, 35-18, in the period to take control of the game.

"This game was important coming in especially with the Knicks sneaking up on everybody," Bosh said. "Nobody was really talking about them. This was especially important to come up with a full game on them and separate from the pack."

Stephon Marbury scored 31 points for New York (29-35), which fell into a three-way tie with Indiana (29-35) and Orlando (30-36) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I thought Marbury played well," Mitchell said. "He hit some tough shots. I thought our guys just battled (Curry) and you can't stop them all but we made some plays down the stretch."

The Knicks played sloppy with the ball at critical times, committing 19 turnovers.

"They hit a lot of big shots, but we had a lot of opportunities to close it and they opened the game up," New York guard Steve Francis said. "I will take the blame for this, I turned the ball over too much at the end, trying to force the ball inside. I was thinking that something was there that obviously wasn't. It was tough."

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