What can the Toronto Raptors do for an encore?
After snapping a seven-game losing streak in emphatic style Sunday, the Raptors will try to make it two in a row when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats Monday night in the first game of a home-and-home series between the Eastern Conference rivals.
Donning their St. Patrick's Day green shorts and jerseys and hoping for the luck of the Irish, the Raptors posted a 110-87 decision over the visiting Indiana Pacers.
The 23-point difference represented Toronto's most lopsided victory of the season, and it was also the club's first win since Feb. 24.
Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani finished with a team-high 27 points and nine rebounds against the Pacers — solid numbers despite battling flu-like symptoms that kept him to just nine minutes in the Raptors' previous game, a 99-95 loss at home to the Detroit Pistons.
Chris Bosh had 15 points and 13 boards while Jose Calderon added 15 points and 12 assists.
After a disastrous first half of March that saw the club lose its first six games of the month, the Raptors (24-43) desperately needed a positive result against the Pacers, and are thankful that they did.
"We really need to take something from it," Bosh said. "This time we can take a positive from this whole game instead of trying to make something good out of a loss."
"We just needed to win," Calderon said. "We've been playing better the last couple of games and we couldn't finish. Today we played for 48 minutes and we have to keep working from here."
Mensah-Bonsu makes a splash
It wasn't just Toronto's "big three" of Bargnani, Bosh and Calderon who had solid outings against Indiana.
Newest Raptor Pops Mensah-Bonsu came off the bench to provide a career-high 21 points and eight rebounds. The unheralded Mensah-Bonsu had four dunks among his five baskets, went 11-for-13 from the free-throw line and added eight rebounds.
"If he plays the way he's been playing he'll get 20 minutes," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "He's making it very difficult to take him off the floor.
"But I think he's a quick energy guy too."
Bosh was red hot for Toronto in the team's previous two games against Charlotte this season (both wins), averaging 34.5 points on 69.2 per cent shooting and 13.0 rebounds.
The Raptors return to Toronto on Friday to host the Bobcats in the opener of a five-game homestand.