Raptors 120, Nets 109

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TORONTO (AP)—Chris Bosh wasn’t about to let the Toronto Raptors head into the All-Star break with a loss to an injury-plagued team chasing them in the standings.

Bosh had 25 points and the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors added to their lead over New Jersey by beating the Nets 120-109 Wednesday night.

Morris Peterson added 18 points and five others reached double figures in scoring for the Raptors, who shot 59 percent and moved 4 1/2 games ahead of New Jersey with their eighth straight home win.

“We knew if they won it would have given them more confidence and that probably would have kick-started him into the second half of the season,” Bosh said. “If they win the game they are right there with us. It was really important to come out here and make a statement.”

Bostjan Nachbar had a career high 26 points and former Raptor Vince Carter had 17 points and 10 assists for the Nets, who lost their second straight without Jason Kidd (back injury). New Jersey is also missing Richard Jefferson (ankle) and Nenad Krstic (knee).

Carter was booed every time he touched the ball. He finished 5-for-15 from the field.

Carter was in no mood to talk about how much the Raptors have improved since they traded him in 2004.

“Next question,” he said.

Carter said they can make a run at Toronto.

“I am not worried about what the Raptors are doing,” Carter said. “We just have to keep fighting and hopefully we can just maintain until our guys get back. The All-Star break is coming at a great time for us.”

Bosh also had nine rebounds and six assists. After fans chanted ‘MVP!, MVP!’ for Bosh in the first half, Carter mouthed the words ‘Come on, MVP?’

“I was just giving him a hard time,” Carter said.

Bosh didn’t think there were any bad feelings.

“It probably came as a surprise. It has been awhile since he’s been here, a lot of things have changed. I don’t think he’s that type of person,” Bosh said. “I think it caught him by shock.”

T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon, Toronto’s two point guards, combined for 33 points and 14 assists. Ford had 17 points and eight assists.

New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank blamed a porous defense for the loss.

“We shoot 50 percent from two and three, and score 109 and we lose,” Frank said.

Nachbar and Cliff Robinson made consecutive 3-pointers to cut Toronto’s lead to four in the fourth, but Toronto followed with 12-2 run highlighted by 3s by Andrea Bargnani and Calderon. Calderon’s 3 gave the Raptors a 111-97 lead with 5:20 left, and Anthony Parker’s 3 made it 114-103 with 1:59 remaining.

Toronto finished 10-for-18 from behind the arc while New Jersey went 14-for-28.

Peterson said they never doubted themselves after they starting the season 2-8.

“A lot of people counted us out. A lot of people said ‘Here we go again,”’ Peterson said. “But if you look at our schedule we started out with the toughest part of our schedule.”

Bosh had 12 points as Toronto led 32-23 at the end of the first quarter.

Eddie House had 14 of his 19 points in the second quarter to help New Jersey tie it at 45, but Ford had nine points as Toronto ended the half on a 16-6 run to take a 61-51 lead at halftime.

Notes

Frank said Carter shouldn’t be the story when the Nets play in Toronto. “You get tried of the criticism of Vince here,” said Frank, who added many players ask for trades. “You have to move forward. Vince is a Net, the Raptors are a very good team. This no longer should be about Vince Carter any more. Vince is part of our family now so every time he gets criticized or booed we take that personally.” … A fan held up a sign for Carter that read ‘I bet you wish you were here.’ … Nachbar’s previous career high was 22 points Jan. 27 at Boston. … Toronto won eight straight at home for the first time since March 24-April 17, 2002.

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Wednesday, Feb 14