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Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh goes up for a shot over Atlanta Hawks Al Horford (R) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto March 17, 2010. (MARK BLINCH)
Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh goes up for a shot over Atlanta Hawks Al Horford (R) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto March 17, 2010. (MARK BLINCH)

Bosh caps Raptors' rally Add to ...

While waiting for the fourth quarter to begin, his team down by 11 and their losing streak threatening to swell to season-eating proportions, the Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh bounced on the spot and rolled his neck like a prize fighter.

Would he answer the bell?

Yes. Eventually. And dramatically. But yes, as Bosh delivered the winning blow, a contested jump shot over Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks from deep on the right baseline with just 2.9 seconds left, giving the Raptors a 106-105 win they needed almost as much as oxygen.

"I don't care who it was against," said Raptors head coach Jay Triano, his team's five-game losing streak suddenly history. "We wanted and needed a win."

To that end, Triano had changed his starting lineup, replacing Jarrett Jack at point guard with incumbent Jose Calderon for the first time in 43 games.

What he was looking for, said Triano, was more flow, better pace to the attack, getting the team into sets faster and running them through and having more people involved more regularly in the offence.

Bosh said he was indifferent about the move, pointing out that as his team's primary option, he's going to get the ball anyway.

And the plan pretty much worked as the Raptors improved to 33-33.

Calderon got the team off quickly, sprinting with the ball out of the backcourt and pushing it forward, with ripple effects all over.

DeMar DeRozan, the rookie some like to finger for the Toronto Raptors woes? He was statistically blameless, chipping in with 19 on 7-of-12 shooting, including 11 points in the first quarter when the Raptors jumped out to 30-25 lead.

Andrea Bargnani responded to calls for him to rebound his position better by battling in the paint, snaring three offensive rebounds, posting up deep and grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with his game-high 22 points.

And even Hedo Turkoglu - a favourite culprit - showed a little spice, chipping in with 16 points, including six in the fourth quarter as the Raptors tried to make their way back into the game against the Hawks, who had blown them out twice already this season and shrugged off the Raptors' early lead by threatening to blow out Toronto in the third quarter.

The Hawks, 43-24, were hampered playing on road for the second night of a back-to-back and without Joe Johnson (heel), their leading scorer, but they hardly showed it. Jamal Crawford came off the bench and had his way with any range of Raptors defenders, jitterbugging his way into the lane at will and pulling up for jumpers when he couldn't, making plain his candidacy for Sixth Man of the year by dropping a game-high 33 on Toronto.

And any time Crawford stumbled the Hawks simply hit a three-pointer, finishing 11-of-18 from deep.

Conspicuous by his absence through all of this was Bosh, who had put himself front-and-centre by publicly questioning the effort of his teammates while the Raptors were losing four straight on the road.

It seemed time for a franchise player to step up, but through 46 minutes, Bosh was having anything but his finest hour as his finest season seemed to be going to waste. Through three quarters, the Raptors leading scorer and rebounder had just six points and five rebounds. The Hawks were double-teaming aggressively, trying to get the ball out of his hands, but Bosh was slow to get into his move and his jumper was wonky, leading to a 6-of-19 night.

It was the Hawks' Horford delivering body blows - muscling past Bosh for key fourth quarter scores, blocking Bosh at the rim in the final minute, blunting a Raptors comeback that seemingly fell short for good when Turkoglu badly missed a free throw that would have tied the score with 15.7 seconds to play.

But the Raptors got bailed out. Amir Johnson, inserted in the game as a rebounder because Bosh had five fouls, managed to wriggle free and get his hands on the ball, knocking out of bounds off a Hawks player.

"I saved him didn't I?" said Johnson, referring to Turkoglu.

He could have been referring to Bosh, too.

Bosh got the ball in an isolation play against Horford with the game clock winding down, his team trailing by a point. He was forced far from the basket, but he got his feet set and he let it fly.

It wasn't his finest hour, but one shot can change that in a hurry, and Bosh's dropped.

"He wanted the ball and we gave it to him," Triano said.

And Bosh showed he deserved it.

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