Raptors down Bulls to tighten playoff raceApr 9, 2007 - 3:20 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Things are starting to fall into place for the Toronto Raptors.
Anthony Parker scored a career-high 27 points and Chris Bosh added 22 as the Raptors defeated the Chicago Bulls, 103-89.
Parker nailed six 3-pointers and Bosh grabbed 11 rebounds to pace Toronto, which moved within 1 1/2 games of Chicago for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"I stayed there and the clock was winding down a few times so that was the best look we were going to get," Parker said. "Once I hit a couple, I did feel a bit more confident and guys started getting me the ball and they started to fall."
"I thought Anthony Parker played as good a complete game - offensively and defensively - as he's played all year," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said.
The Raptors hold a two-game lead on No. 4 seed Miami, which dropped a 111-103 decision in overtime to Charlotte (31-47).
"It was a very important game for us because we want to hold on to our lead," Bosh said. "With Miami losing, we gain a full game on them. Now we need to win tomorrow's game."
A two-time All-Star forward, Bosh is averaging 23 points and 12.5 rebounds as the Raptors have won eight of their last 10 games. He has recorded a double-double in eight consecutive contests.
After holding a four-point lead at halftime, Chicago managed to hit only five of their 18 field goal attempts en route to being outscored, 31-17, in the third quarter following Juan Dixon's half-court shot as time expired.
"We were concerned right at the beginning of the game that we just didn't seem to have the same pop we've had recently, and when we got the lead, we kind of felt it was tenuous right then," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "Once they got the momentum, we just staggered and couldn't do anything."
"We didn't take care of the ball on the perimeter - the guards especially - and that really cost us," Bulls guard Ben Gordon said. "They were able to convert on some of our turnovers and we need to do a better job, especially this time of the year."
Toronto gradually increased the lead to as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter before the Bulls scored the final seven of the game.
Joey Graham scored a season-high 19 points and Dixon added 17 for the Raptors.
"This is the time for me to step up," Graham said. "Going to the end of the season and into the playoffs, I feel like I'm hitting my stride and I'm feeling more confidence. This was a big win for us but we feel we've got some bigger ones coming yet in the playoffs."
Gordon scored 27 points to lead Chicago, which saw their three-game winning streak snapped.
The Raptors' Morris Peterson was ejected in the second quarter following a foul call that knocked Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich to the floor. It was deemed as a Type 2 flagrant foul, which warrants an automatic ejection.
TORONTO 103 FINAL
Apr 8 8:36 PM
TORONTO 77 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 8 8:04 PM
TORONTO 46 HALFTIME
Apr 8 7:13 PM
TORONTO 23 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 8 6:35 PM
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