Raptors within half-game of final playoff spot


TORONTO (AP) -- The Toronto Raptors are playing their best
basketball of the season without their best player.

Morris Peterson scored 26 and Antonio Davis had 25 as the
Raptors won their season-high sixth straight game without Vince
Carter, 117-104 over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

"It's weird," Toronto's Alvin Williams said. "We are just
playing good team basketball. We're not relying on one player to do
it all."

Davis added 13 rebounds and four assists to help the Raptors
move within a half-game of Indiana for the eighth and final playoff
spot in the Eastern Conference. Two of Toronto's final eight games
are against the Pacers.

The Raptors, who have won 12 straight against the Bulls, play
Chicago again on Friday before facing the Pacers here Sunday.

"Antonio has been a monster," Peterson said. "A lot of people
counted us out. We're definitely focused on the playoffs."

Jalen Rose had 30 points for the Bulls, who have lost seven
straight and 15 of 16. Chicago rookie Tyson Chandler tied a
season high with 16 points. He also had 10 rebounds, three blocks
and went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.

"I just have to try to be professional so I can help clean up
this mess," Rose said.

Keon Clark added 18 points, Jerome Williams had 16 and Alvin
Williams had 12 points and 10 assists for the Raptors, who had lost
17 of 18 following the All-Star break. Toronto hasn't lost since
announcing Carter would have season-ending knee surgery.

"Morris and Antonio have really stepped up their games,"
Jerome Williams said. "They are giving us that inside, outside
punch that we needed."

The Raptors, who shot 54 percent from the field, scored a
season-high 70 points in the first half.

The Bulls, who trailed by as many 25 points, narrowed the lead
to nine on Rose's 3-pointer with 2:00 left, but they didn't get

"We didn't guard them until the end of the game," Chicago
coach Bill Cartwright said.

Rose scored nine of Chicago's first 19 points as the Bulls led
by 10 midway through the first quarter. But Clark tied it at 31
with a jumper late in the first quarter, and Peterson scored seven
points as Toronto went on a 17-3 run to take a 12-point lead in the
second quarter. The Raptors later went on a 11-4 spurt to take a
19-point lead.

Peterson had 16 points, Davis had 15 and Clark added 14 as
Toronto led 70-57 at halftime.

Davis had four points as the Raptors started the second half on
a 9-2 run.

Peterson's 3-pointer gave Toronto a 20-point lead with 7:09 left
in the third quarter, and Davis' driving dunk gave the Raptors a
25-point edge -- Toronto's biggest lead of the game.

Chris Childs' 3-pointer made it 100-79 just before the end of
the third.

Game notes
The Bulls are 5-17 and have surrendered 100 points or more
13 times since trading Ron Artest to the Pacers. ... The Bulls are
4-32 on the road this season. ... Five Toronto players have scored
10 or more points in three of their last six games. ... Charles
Oakley got a mix of boos and cheers from the fans in his third game
in Toronto since being traded last summer. "This is a hockey town
and they haven't learned basketball. Give them 10 years and maybe
they will learn," Oakley said.