Raptors Take on Hornets

Chris Paul is earning MVP consideration as he's led the New Orleans Hornets to the best record in the their conference. Chris Bosh's Toronto Raptors can't make the same claim, but when he's been healthy, he's certainly proven his worth.

Bosh will look to help the Raptors win three straight for the first time in more than a month Sunday against Paul's Hornets, who are coming off one of their worst losses of the season.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made New Orleans –2.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 196.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 89% of bets for this game have been placed on New Orleans –2.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Toronto (37-35) was in position to earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs when Bosh left the team's Feb. 29 game at Indiana with a swollen knee. The Raptors, though, went 2-8 in 10 games without their All-Star.

Bosh returned on March 19, and Toronto has shown signs of turning things around. The Raptors are 3-2 since his return, and followed up a Wednesday win over Central Division-leading Detroit with a 93-85 victory over New York on Friday.

"I've been working hard in practice trying to get my legs back," Bosh said after having 29 points and 10 rebounds against the Knicks. "I feel that I can really help this team out and I'll be 100 percent when it counts."

Bosh has missed 15 games this season, and the difference in Toronto's play with him in the lineup is especially overwhelming defensively. In the 57 games Bosh has played, the Raptors have allowed 94.4 points per game. In the 15 he's missed, they've given up an average of 106.3.

In the five games since he's returned, the Raptors are only surrendering 86.0 points per game.

"We had a tough couple of weeks and we are trying to get things turned around," point guard T.J. Ford said. "The only way you can do that is to play hard and just continue to play the right way and play team basketball."

Ford is averaging 11.5 points and 9.0 assists since returning to the starting lineup over the last two games. He has only one turnover in his last four contests.

The Hornets (49-22) are percentage points ahead of San Antonio for the Western Conference's best record, but they didn't play like an NBA title contender in their most recent game.

They let Boston make 59.5 percent of its shots on Friday, the highest field-goal percentage New Orleans had allowed since Dec. 23, 2006. Despite the poor defense, the Hornets led 60-56 at halftime, but scored only 32 in the second half en route to a 112-92 loss, which snapped a five-game winning streak.

"We feel like it got away from us in the third quarter, but that's our fault," said Paul, who had 22 points and 10 assists. "We feel like we let one get away."

Paul has made his case as the league's most valuable player all season, but he's been especially good in the past 12 games, averaging 24.8 points and 13.9 assists. He has 44 assists against only three turnovers in his last three games.

After Paul had 20 assists in a 100-99 win at Cleveland on Wednesday, Cavaliers star LeBron James called Paul "the best point guard in the league."

The Hornets' other All-Star, forward David West, has also played well lately. He's averaging 25.8 points over his last five games.

Both Paul and West had big games in New Orleans' first meeting with Toronto - Paul had 23 points and 16 assists while West had 33 points and 11 rebounds - but Bosh's 29 points led the Raptors to a 97-92 win on Dec. 31.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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