TORONTO (AP) -- Getting a basketball shoved in his face by an
ex-teammate made Mike James play even better.
James had 30 points, eight assists and seven rebounds against
his former team, and the Toronto Raptors won their season-high
fifth straight with a 112-92 rout of the Houston Rockets on Friday
James, acquired from Houston in a trade for Rafer Alston in
October, stepped up his game after Rockets forward Juwan Howard was
ejected for shoving him in the face with the basketball.
After James drove toward the basket and was fouled by Howard,
the players exchanged words before Howard approached James and
shoved the ball into his face. James was restrained by his
teammates. Both received a technical, but Howard was also tossed.
"After that happened, something really clicked inside of me,"
James said. "The only person I fear in my life is my heavyweight
father. Besides that, I fear no man."
Asked if he has a history with Howard, James said: "Actually,
that's my boy. Well, I thought he was."
Howard didn't want to discuss it.
"Don't ask me about it," Howard said.
Alston showed up late to the arena, then was critical of Raptors
coach Sam Mitchell, saying he didn't prepare his players for games.
Alston repeatedly clashed with Mitchell last year.
Alston had just two points and seven assists in 35 minutes.
James, who is expected to opt out of his contract and become a
free agent this summer, was traded because the Rockets considered
Alston more of a true point guard.
"I guess I'm not a point guard. That's what everybody's quote
is to this day that Mike James is not a point guard, but for some
reason I still continue to get seven, eight assists," James said.
"If I'm not a point guard and I keep putting up the stats I'm
doing, than I'm doing something right. I keep telling people, no
I'm not a pure point guard, no I'm not a shooting guard, but I'm a
Chris Bosh added 22 points and 16 rebounds and rookie Charlie
Villanueva had 21 points for the Raptors, who are on their longest
winning streak since winning five straight in December 2003.
Tracy McGrady scored 37 points -- surpassing 30 for the fifth
game in a row -- but the Rockets have lost six of eight.
It's the first time McGrady, who had a season high-tying 38
against Washington on Tuesday, has scored at least 30 in five
straight games since coming to Houston in 2004.
Bosh capped a 12-0 run early in third quarter with a 16-foot
jumper, giving Toronto a 15-point lead.
Houston later cut the lead to 10, but Villanueva scored 10
straight to give Toronto an 84-76 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Morris Peterson, who had 19 points, followed with a 3-pointer,
Villanueva made a jumper and Peterson made another 3-pointer to
make it a 20-point game with 8:40 left.
James' 3-pointer made it 98-79 with 6:24 left.
Rookie Joey Graham gave Toronto a four-point lead with a
3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in the first half. Graham
celebrated and started walking toward the tunnel, but Mitchell
grabbed him and threw back on defense.
The Raptors have won seven of nine. ... The Raptors are
4-12 at home.