Raptors Not Extinct--YetThe Toronto Raptors built a 20 point first quarter lead and held on for dear life to win 98-96 and stave off elimination by the New Jersey Nets; the Nets still lead the series 3-2 and can advance to a second round matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers by winning at home in game six. Jose Calderon led the Raptors with a career-high 25 points and eight assists before spraining his ankle with less than 30 seconds left; he played 38 minutes after starting point guard T.J. Ford injured his neck in a collision with Vince Carter. Andrea Bargnani and Anthony Parker each had 18 points, while foul trouble limited Chris Bosh to 11 points and eight rebounds. Vince Carter played much better than he has in his previous games as a visitor at the Air Canada Centre, producing 30 points on 10-22 shooting. Richard Jefferson added 23 points on 9-14 shooting and Jason Kidd just missed yet another triple double (11 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds), but New Jersey's perimeter trio received little help from the rest of the roster.
Toronto blasted out to a 33-13 lead by the end of the first quarter, with the only down note being Ford's injury. The Nets were only able to shave three points off of that margin by halftime, trailing 59-42. Toronto maintained a double digit lead for most of the third quarter but New Jersey went on a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter to get within 85-81. Bosh then sank two free throws but the Nets countered with a pair of Jefferson jumpers to make the score 87-85 Toronto. The Raptors kept their cool and pushed the lead back to 95-88 at the 3:16 mark but the Nets had one run left, a 6-0 streak that got them to 95-94 after Carter's three pointer with 27 seconds remaining. Bosh made three of his four free throws in the closing seconds but the victory was not assured until Bostjan Nachbar's three pointer failed to connect as time ran out.
Ford, whose career was nearly ended by a previous neck injury, reportedly had tingling in his arms and was taken to a hospital for further tests. He returned to the arena in street clothes. Winning game six on the road on Friday will be a supreme challenge for the young Raptors, particularly if Ford is unable to play.
posted by David Friedman @ 5:04 AM