TORONTO (AP)—Chris Bosh returned to the lineup with a bang, one big enough to erase a double-digit halftime deficit.
“I wanted to come back when the time was right and I felt the time was right today,” Bosh said. “It was a big game and a game at home, most importantly. The past two days (the groin) has been pretty good in my workout. I just wanted to come out and give it a go.”
Toronto trailed by 14 in the first quarter and was down 45-34 at the half, but turned the game around with an explosive third, opening with a 12-4 run that cut the gap to three at 49-46.
“We knew that we had to come out in the third quarter with a bang,” Bosh said. “We just wanted to make a push early.”
The Raptors kept up the charge, tying it at 52 on a jumper by Parker, then taking their first lead of the game at 3:52 on a jump-hook from Rasho Nesterovic. Once in front, the Raptors never trailed again.
Humphries said Bosh’s return gave the Raptors a boost.
“We feed off his energy,” Humphries said. “Him coming in and being aggressive, giving us that many minutes after having not played, it’s great.”
Bosh was only too glad to lift his teammates’ sprits.
“I want everybody to play with confidence,” Bosh said. “That’s the major thing that I saw was missing when I was out. It’s not about what I bring to the table, it’s about us feeding off of each other and making each other play hard.”
Bosh made his presence felt on the opening possession by blocking a shot by Steve Francis. He was at it again late in the fourth, racing back to block McGrady on a layup.
The way we played in the second half is the way they played in the first half,” McGrady said. “We had energy in the first half and they didn’t. When the game really counted, they had a lot more energy than we did, they did a better job of executing and that’s why they won.”
The Rockets made just four of 16 shot attempts in the third, scoring 11 points. Houston coach Rick Adelman said his team was “stagnant.”
“They really got us back on our heels,” Adelman said. “They were an aggressive team the whole second half and we didn’t have an answer for it.”
Even with Bosh back, the Raptors got off to a poor start, making only one of their first 10 field goal attempts. They trailed 16-2 midway through the first after the Rockets nailed their first four 3-pointers.
As Toronto’s shooters began to find their range, the Raptors clawed their way back with a 10-1 run to trail 22-16 after 12 minutes.
Despite giving away several pounds and inches, Nesterovic and Humphries did a good job of controlling Yao, who went 5-for-10 and had only six rebounds.
“We’ve just got to be aggressive and take him out of what he’s doing,” Humphries said. “It’s a tough assignment, but sometimes it’s better to be quick.”
Rockets guard Rafer Alston (strained groin) missed his first game of the season and without him, Houston struggled to move the ball, matching a season-low with 15 assists.
“Rafer is a big loss for us,” McGrady said. “He provides a guy that controls the tempo. He’s a great floor general, very smart basketball player and we kind of miss that.”
Houston started the season 6-1 but has gone 5-9 since, a slide Adelman blamed on a schedule that has seen the Rockets play 13 of their first 21 games away from home.
“We’re on the road all the time,” Adelman said. “It’s a little bit different than being home. You’ve got a totally different atmosphere. We haven’t been consistent in the way we’ve played.”
Toronto forward Andrea Bargnani (hyperextended knee) missed his fourth straight game but is expected to resume practicing on Monday. … Jerry Colangelo, father of Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo, attended the game.