Chris Bosh led a very balanced attack for the Toronto Raptors (25-45) as they disposed of the lowly Los Angeles Clippers 100-76 on Sunday afternoon in front of a home crowd at the Air Canada Centre.
Bosh had 16 points and 13 rebounds to pace the Raptors, who didn't have Andrea Bargnani in the lineup. The seven-footer was out with an injured heel. Including Bosh, five Toronto players scored in double figures.
Although the Raptors are out of the playoff hunt, the team has not given up on the season.
"It's important not only for the fans, but for ourselves," Bosh told CBC Sports. "We're in a very unique situation. I'm really not used to it. But you have to play the cards that you've dealt, and you have to try to win every game."
The win is just Toronto's second victory since Feb. 25, and only the Washington Wizards have a worse record in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
"We just have to have fun playing the game of basketball," Bosh said. "The way to have fun is playing defence, lock them down and run. When you're running and getting dunks, everybody is scoring and everybody is pushing the ball, that is when it is fun."
Unlike their previous two games — losses against Charlotte — the Raptors were quick out of the gate, leading 33-20 after the first quarter. Toronto had built a 54-40 margin by halftime.
With a big cushion, coach Jay Triano was able to give his starters a rest, allowing Roko Ukic, Joey Graham and Pops Mensah-Bonsu to get some valuable minutes.
The Raptors' dominance continued in the second half, as four of their starters reached double figures and the team took a 77-54 lead at the end of the third quarter. With the game all but over, Toronto was able to sit Bosh and Jose Calderon for the entire fourth quarter; the Clippers were never able to go on a run.
"I thought we got outworked," Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We shot 38 per cent from the field and got two offensive rebounds, so that says we didn't battle well enough."
Zach Randolph scored 20 points for the Clippers (17-53), who haven't won on the road in six weeks and have the second-worst record in the Western Conference. They have now lost 10 of their past 12 games.
Clippers star Davis struggles
Los Angeles star point guard Baron Davis, who signed a $65-million US, five-year contract during the off-season, struggled throughout the afternoon. The 29-year-old scored 12 points on just 20 per cent shooting (3-for-15) from the floor.
The Clippers were also without one of their best players, as forward Al Thornton sat out with a sore shoulder.
Toronto dominated the paint, outscoring the Clippers 50-38, and grabbed a season-high 57 rebounds. Shawn Marion said the team had a noticeably upbeat attitude on the court for the first time in recent memory.
"You can see the life of everyone in here," Marion said afterwards. "We just have to try and keep it going. I think we have to take it one game at a time and build on it. When we win, we go forward instead of backwards."
Raptors fans haven't had much to smile about this season, but loud cheers filled the building at several moments during the game, as the outcome was never in doubt from the opening tip.
Calderon acknowledged fans' disappointment with the team, but nobody is giving up, he said.
"I'm trying," Calderon said. "We've got to keep fighting."
Bargnani missed his first game of the season and first since December 2007 against the Houston Rockets.
"It is something that has been bothering him a little bit," Triano said of Bargnani, who had his consecutive-games-played streak snapped at 130. "He is just going to have to get some rest and hopefully it calms down."
The Raptors next action is Wednesday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks at 7 p.m. ET.