Bosh put up offensive numbers consistent with his All-Star season on Monday night: 32 points, eight rebounds and 13-of-16 free-throw shooting. But the striking scene in the Raptors' 104-100 victory against the Charlotte Bobcats was the sight of Bosh yelling out instructions on defense, warning teammates of back screens and announcing double-teams.
It's something Bosh, never one to light up a room with boisterous conversation, decided he must do.
"Sometimes I catch myself being quiet, but then I have to pick it back up and start talking again," Bosh said. "I'm not a talker by nature. That's how I am naturally. So I know I have to step outside of myself because I really like winning."
The Raptors need victories as they try to avoid slipping to seventh place in the Eastern Conference and a likely first-round playoff matchup with powerful Detroit. Their third victory in four games kept them alone in sixth, a game ahead of idle Philadelphia.
Bosh was the difference as Toronto avenged a 22-point loss to Charlotte on March 2 when the Bobcats held a 32-0 edge on second-chance points.
Bosh didn't play in that game. With the Raptors' talkative big man clogging the middle, Charlotte managed only seven offensive rebounds as its three-game winning streak was snapped.
"I thought Rasho (Nesterovic) and Chris, I could hear them talking on defense," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "Rasho is rubbing off on Chris, as far as communicating in the back."
Jason Richardson scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half for the Bobcats. Gerald Wallace scored 20 points and Emeka Okafor had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Charlotte's faint playoff hopes took a hit, thanks to 45 percent shooting against that noisy defense.
"If you call out a cross screen, guys are always looking to see where screens are coming and they are no surprises," Bosh said. "They won't get stood up by a screen, that's how you get beat backdoor.
"If you talk, that makes the offense hesitate, too. If you say you're coming to double, the guy is going to wait on you a little bit, and that kind of stalls them. There are advantages all the way around."
The defense helped carry Toronto in a game of large momentum shifts.
The Raptors made 17 consecutive shots in the first quarter, fell behind by 10 in the second, then pulled away in the second half against the Bobcats, who were playing only their second home game in more than three weeks.
Richardson's 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left cut Toronto's lead to 103-100. Ford was fouled, then made the second of two free throws, ending Charlotte's chances.
"I think it was just the backlash of the West Coast trip," said Wallace of Charlotte's first game following a 3-2 trip that included a victory against the Lakers in Los Angeles. "Our legs just weren't in it tonight."
The weary Bobcats, who had played 10 of their previous 11 on the road, were no match for the energetic Bosh. He made 9 of 20 shots and added five assists in 46 minutes.
It's what the Raptors need to break out of their doldrums following a division title last season.
"He's huge," Richardson said. "He's their leader. He's their superstar. He does a lot of things and had a great game."
|T.J. Ford floats to the basket in the first half and helps Toronto stay in the playoff picture. (AP)|
|Toronto (38-36) «||39||19||21||25||104|
|TOR:C. Bosh 32 Pts
TOR:R. Nesterovic 11 Reb
TOR:T. Ford 7 Ast
|CHA:J. Richardson 26 Pts
CHA:E. Okafor 12 Reb
CHA:R. Felton 10 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|C. Bosh, PF||46||9-20||13-16||8||5||0||32|
|A. Parker, SG||41||8-14||3-4||4||5||3||20|
|J. Moon, SG||37||6-7||3-6||8||2||3||15|
|T. Ford, PG||34||6-12||4-6||0||7||2||16|
|R. Nesterovic, C||28||6-14||2-2||11||1||3||14|
|J. Calderon, PG||18||0-2||1-2||0||1||3||1|
|C. Delfino, SG||15||2-6||1-1||4||0||2||6|
|K. Humphries, PF||12||0-1||0-0||2||0||2||0|
|A. Bargnani, PF||8||0-2||0-0||2||0||1||0|
|L. Johnson, PF||2||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|M. Baston, SF||Did Not Play|
|P. Brezec, C||Did Not Play|
|J. Kapono, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Graham, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Garbajosa, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|G. Wallace, SF||43||7-16||4-4||8||3||4||20|
|J. Richardson, SG||38||10-17||2-4||6||2||4||26|
|E. Okafor, C||36||9-14||0-2||12||2||3||18|
|R. Felton, PG||31||2-10||6-6||2||10||4||10|
|N. Mohammed, C||23||2-5||0-0||5||0||5||4|
|J. Dudley, PF||28||5-8||0-0||1||0||1||11|
|E. Boykins, PG||21||2-6||4-4||0||4||2||8|
|M. Carroll, SG||18||1-8||0-0||4||0||2||3|
|R. Hollins, C||2||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|D. Anderson, SG||Did Not Play|
|O. Harrington, PF||Did Not Play|
|S. May, PF||Did Not Play|
|A. Morrison, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Davidson, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|