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Toronto Raptors Chris Bosh battles for the ball with San Antonio Spurs Theo Ratliff (R) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto, January 3, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (MARK BLINCH)
Toronto Raptors Chris Bosh battles for the ball with San Antonio Spurs Theo Ratliff (R) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto, January 3, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (MARK BLINCH)

Bosh sets record, Raptors beat Spurs Add to ...

It wasn't vintage Chris Bosh, but that says a lot about a player who's excelled in good times and bad in Toronto.

The Toronto Raptors won, for one thing, not always a given during his still-unfolding career as the club's franchise player in name and deed, and they did it without one of his trademark dominant nights.

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Instead, it was a working class version who provided 22 points and 15 rebounds to help his club outlast the San Antonio Spurs 91-86 at the Air Canada Centre here. But it was enough and, as a result, the night that Bosh passed Vince Carter to become the club's career leading scorer will be a fond memory.

"[Winning]was the best part," Bosh said. "I was thinking it'd be nice to set the record but I wanted to win as well, that was the main focus of the whole day."

As brilliant and consistent as Bosh has been through his seven NBA seasons in a Toronto uniform, he's been the backbone of some bad teams.

This year's edition - in large part because of Bosh's career-best efforts - is gamely headed to respectability, or at least a playoff spot. Their win over the Spurs was their sixth in their past seven games and 10th in their past 15. It pulled them with a game of .500 at 17-18 and 11-5 at the ACC.

Bosh tied Carter's 9,420 career points as a Raptor with a jumper from just outside the elbow late in the third quarter, the weapon that has helped make him one of the most consistent scorers in the NBA.

And he broke Carter's mark with another jumper - set up with a little head fake and a dribble to his right at the top of the key. He now has 9,442 and counting, the 10,000-point mark is his next milestone.

If Bosh signs a long-term contract in the off-season - he's heading into free agency - and play the rest of his prime in Toronto, it's likely he'll set marks in all categories that will last decades into the future.

But producing is simply what's become expected for the veteran who joined the club as a skinny 19-year-old with one year of college basketball under his belt before being drafted No.4 overall in 2003 by then-general manager Glen Grunwald.

The most unappreciated aspect of being the face of a franchise? "The biggest thing you have to do is make sure you show up every night," said Raptors coach Jay Triano, who has worked with Bosh since he broke into the NBA. "There's no hiding on the bench or deferring to the all-star and throw him the ball every time I get it. He knows the ball is coming to him and he has to perform and if he doesn't we're in a bit of a hole."

And Bosh has delivered.

"He is the face of the franchise here and faces of franchises get paid to do those sorts of things," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's come through and done what they've paid him to do and he can be satisfied with that and he's done it with class."

Bosh received a standing ovation in between the third and fourth quarters after setting the record. A smile was his only acknowledgment, proof that at the grizzled old age of 25 he's already put statistical feats behind him even as he fashions his most impressive season with career highs in most important categories.

It wasn't one of his best games as he shot just 10 of 24 from the floor and failed to get to the free throw line until there was just 11.1 seconds left in the contest - rare for a player who has been among the league leaders in free throws attempted all season.

But he made his share of winning plays.

Twice in the fourth quarter the Spurs attacked the rim in the clear for layups as they worked their way back into the contest after falling behind early when they started the game with their franchise player, Tim Duncan, resting on the bench. And twice Bosh sent their shots back.

His driving left-hand layup around Duncan with just less than a minute left put the Raptors up by five points and he knocked down both of those free throws to essentially seal the game.

"He took his lumps [early in his career]" Triano said. "And we found out at that time that he was a fighter because he came back and wanted to get better. That's one of the things that's unique about him. You knock him down and he'd going to get back up. He's got great drive that way."

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