for this game

Bosh leads Raptors to season-opening win over 76ers

Oct 30, 2008 - 2:09 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The first night of the Chris Bosh-Jermaine O'Neal experiment worked to perfection for the Toronto Raptors. The revamped Philadelphia 76ers' dynamic, on the other hand, is still working out the kinks.

The Raptors' high-priced frontcourt duo combined for 44 points and 19 rebounds and opened things up for a hot shooting night from the perimeter as the Raptors rolled over the Sixers, 95-84, on Wednesday night.

O'Neal, the former Indiana Pacers star who has been riddled with injuries over the last four years, was acquired by Toronto in an offseason trade. He could make for a formidable tandem with Bosh, the All-Star and Olympian who has led the Raptors to the playoffs the last two seasons.

The 6-10 center led the way with 27 points and 11 boards as the Raptors defeated their Atlantic Division rivals for the eighth time in their last 10 meetings. O'Neal added 17 and eight in his Toronto debut.

"To us, every game counts," O'Neal said. "You have to compete like a playoff game."

Philadelphia's highly anticipated Elton Brand-Andre Iguodala combination, however, got off to a much shakier start.

Brand, who signed a five-year, $80 million deal this offseason, registered a double-double with 14 points and 13 boards but shot just 5-of-14 from the field. Iguodala was just 5-of-17 and finished with 15 points.

"Good thing about the NBA is we have another game coming up in a few days," Brand said. "We have to bounce back. It's definitely a difficult loss."

After falling behind big in the second half, the Sixers staged a 7-0 rally - punctuated by Louis Williams' three-point play - late in the fourth quarter to cut their deficit to 88-82. But Bosh answered on the other end with a long jumper and Jason Kapono drained a 3-pointer from the left corner to effectively put the game on ice.

"Our defense held them to 34 percent shooting. We got some key rebounds and made some timely shots," Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell said. "Our defense as a whole was pretty good."

Bosh and O'Neal's joint presence in the paint and a trio of sharpshooters on the outside made for a formidable attack Wednesday that the Sixers' defense couldn't match. Clinging to a one-point lead in the third quarter, the Raptors staged a 17-4 run to take a 74-60 advantage - their biggest lead of the night.

"Chris Bosh is a very good basketball player and, when he comes into this building, he usually has a very good game. Early on, I thought we did a nice job but it kind of settled in and Jermaine O'Neal gave him some help," Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks said. "When he's playing like that, it's tough to double-team (Bosh) because they start to spread those 3-point shooters and they run their pick-and-roll."

Anthony Parker and Jose Calderon each connected from the arc during the run, and O'Neal added a pair of short jumpers as Toronto took control.

The Raptors hit 10-of-16 from the arc on the night, with Kapono, Calderon and Parker knocking down three apiece.

"I think we can play different styles. We can play the pick-and-roll game, and that's what we did tonight," Kapono said. "We exploited on that. I don't even think we shot the ball well as a team. Once that gets better, it'll get better for us."

Samuel Dalembert had nine points and 17 rebounds and Williams added 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting for Philadelphia, which is considered one of the league's up-and-coming teams after last year's surprising playoff appearance.

The acquisition of Brand helped increase that enthusiasm for the Sixers, who shot just 34.5 percent (29-of-84) from the field but stayed in a game thanks to a 56-33 advantage on the boards.

"I'm disappointed with phases of the game," Cheeks said. "I thought our defense was going to be a little better. Overall, I am not disappointed because it's not to going to happen overnight. I would have liked us to shoot the ball better, and we didn't defend the ball the way we are capable of."

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