TORONTO -- There were nights early in the season when the Raptor's Rasho Nesterovic didn't play at all. Rather than sulk postgame, the veteran center would head upstairs to the practice gym and run.
Now, with All-Star forward Chris Bosh sidelined with a knee injury, that perseverance is paying off for Nesterovic.
"Rasho is a pro," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "He never complains and is always ready to play. That's something our young players need to learn from."
The game marked the third time in the last five that Nesterovic has scored at least16 points. He also led the Raptors with six assists, which may be a first for the big Slovenian.
"I can't remember (the last time he led his team in assists)," Nesterovic said. "They don't let big guys pass, because they don't trust them. I finally found a team that trusts big guys."
A lackadaisical first-half had the Raptors looking as if they were headed for their fifth loss in six games. The Sonics, who have lost eight of nine and are on pace to finish with the worst record in franchise history, had a four-point advantage at halftime.
But the Raptors found another gear in the third quarter, outscoring the Sonics 35-21 to take an 89-79 lead into the fourth, delighting the capacity crowd of 19,800 that turned out to the Air Canada Centre despite a snowstorm that had pounded the city for the previous two days.
"We knew the mistakes we had in the first half so we just came out and tried to run a little more, be a little more aggressive on the defense and on the offense," Raptors guard Jose Calderon said.
The Raptors looked to be in control after a basket by Bargnani gave them an 18-point lead early in the fourth.
But the Sonics didn't give up, pulling within five points when Luke Ridnour drained two free throws after a hard foul by Delfino sent him crashing to the court face-first. That was as close as the Sonics would get, as the Raptors dominated the final few minutes to secure the win.
The Raptors are 4-6 without Bosh this season, and 2-3 during his current injury, a sore right knee that could keep the team's leading scorer and rebounder out of some, if not all, of the five games on the upcoming West Coast trip.
Seattle outshot and outrebounded Toronto, shooting 54 percent from the field and grabbing 38 rebounds. Toronto shot 49 percent and had 36 rebounds.
The Sonics were hit hard by turnovers though, coughing the ball up 22 times for 30 points.
"I thought the Raptors played extremely well," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "They just executed, made shots, and really did a good job. We felt going in that we couldn't turn the ball over, and that's been a major problem to begin with, but especially against a team like Toronto ... 22 turnovers for 30 points, you shouldn't even be in the game."
The Sonics took advantage of a sluggish Raptors squad in the early going, taking a nine-point lead midway through the first quarter on 11 points from Wilcox. Seattle was up 31-24 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter was similar, as Seattle shot 10-for-12 from the field to take an 11-point lead. Toronto battled back, and a running bank shot by Delfino with 3 seconds left sent the Raptors into halftime trailing 58-54.
The Sonics led by two points midway through the third, but the Raptors outscored their visitors 23-11 to the end of the quarter.
- The Raptors open their road trip Tuesday against the Lakers in L.A. They'll visit Golden State, Denver, Sacramento and Utah before returning home.