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Toronto Raptors' Amir Johnson (top) celebrates his slam dunk over New York Knicks' Anthony Randolph during the first half of NBA pre-season action in Montreal, October 22, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best


Andrea Bargnani scored 15 points to lead a balanced Toronto Raptors attack in a 108-103 pre-season win over the New York Knicks on Friday night in front of a packed house of 22,114 at the Bell Centre.

Bargnani also went 3 for 4 on three-pointers, while David Andersen, Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza had 12 points apiece for the Raptors, who completed the pre-season with four wins and three losses.

Amar'e Stoudemire scored 24 points in only 25 minutes, while Canadian national team member Andy Rautins scored five points in 22 minutes for the Knicks (3-4).

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It was the final pre-season game for both teams, who will face each other again in Toronto on Wednesday night for the regular season opener at the Air Canada Centre.

It was the first time the NBA visited the city since 1990, when Charles Barkley's Philadelphia 76ers faced the Washington Bullets at the old Montreal Forum.

The venerable hockey arena was about three quarters full for that pre-season game, but scalpers outside the Bell Centre on Friday were looking for people selling tickets just a half hour before tip-off.

And the crowd was largely behind the "home" Raptors, with little evidence of a trickle-down effect of the hated hockey rivalry between the Canadiens and Maple Leafs.

The crowd was just over 800 more than the 21,273 capacity for a Canadiens game.

The crowd hung on every play, even though the quality was considerably lower than what is normal for an NBA contest. Routine behind-the-back passes drew a reaction, and every dunk was met with a thunderous roar.

In the absence of star Chris Bosh's free-agent departure, the Raptors have displayed a balanced attack the entire pre-season, with seven players averaging double-figures in points entering Friday night and Barbosa leading the way at only 13.9 points per game.

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It was no different Friday night, with seven Raptors in double figures and points coming from everyone.

Ahead 62-45 at halftime, Toronto's lead was steady until midway through the fourth quarter when former Raptor Roger Mason Jr. drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to six, 92-86.

But Toronto responded with a 10-2 run, fuelled by a Sonny Weems running hook and three-pointer.

The Knicks put on a full court press late and used a late run to cut the lead to 104-100, but two thunderous dunks by Julian Wright in the final minute helped the Raptors pull away and brought the house down to send the fans home happy.

Both teams played their starters for much of the first quarter, and Stoudamire quickly showed why the Knicks handed him a US$99.7-million, five-year deal in the off-season. He scored 13 points in the opening 12 minutes on 5-of-6 shooting to keep New York down by a point, 27-26.

But both team's benches took over in the second quarter and the Raptors pulled away, with Barbosa scoring 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the second to lead Toronto into the half.

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Notes: The Raptors were without F Ed Davis (knee), while the Knicks were missing C Eddy Curry (hamstring) and G/F Kelenna Azubuike (knee). . . Win Butler, the lead singer of Montreal-based indie rockers Arcade Fire, was sitting courtside.

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