Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can start rising to the top.
That appears to be the case with the Toronto Raptors, who couldn't sink much lower than last Wednesday's 146-115 loss at Atlanta.
Chris Bosh was held to a career-low two points and blasted his teammates' performance. The in-fighting looked like a recipe for disaster on the opening game of the road trip. But something funny happened on the flight from Atlanta to Washington. The Raptors began playing team defense, Bosh tallied a team-high 31 points and 16 rebounds and Hedo Turkoglu hit a late basket in overtime to give the Raptors a 109-107 overtime victory.
The next night in Chicago, the Raptors ripped the Bulls 110-78, holding them to almost half the total Toronto allowed the Hawks.
It was the second straight road game in which they held their opponent to under 100 in regulation after allowing 12 straight opponents score in triple-figures, and they went 2-0 against the spread after a streak of 0-5 ATS.
It's as if the Raptors (9-13) left Toronto as a group of individuals and returned as a team.
Now they face the Timberwolves (3-17), who are winless in their last six SU and 1-5 ATS in that span. Minnesota has lost 10 in a row to Toronto. The Raptors are 8-point favorites with a total of 212.
Devil of a time
Manchester United is dealing with serious injury issues heading into their Champions League match today against Wolfsburg. Manager Alex Ferguson will be missing 14 regulars, including all six defenders.
Wes Brown, Gary Neville and Nemanja Vidic all won't play today joining John O'Shea, Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand on the sidelines.
Manchester United has a tough Premiership game Saturday against Aston Villa, something that Ferguson admits he's thinking about.
"I have to look at the bigger picture at this stage," Ferguson told reporters. "I have to look at Saturday and future league games after that. The truth is we have already qualified from this group."
Oddsmakers seem to think Wolfsburg will knock off the English club today. They have the home team listed at +105, the draw at +240 and Man U paying at +260 for the away win.
Shooting the Bulls
Chicago has been embarrassed in its last two outings - a 110-78 home loss to the Raptors on Saturday, when Toronto's Jarrett Jack tied has shoelaces as he dribbled off the final seconds, and a more justifiable 101-87 loss at Cleveland on Friday, when LeBron James showed off his victory dance steps late.
The Bulls haven't broken the 100-point barrier since Nov. 17 and they are 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight games and 1-5 against the over.
Now they get a crack at the NBA's version of the Harlem Globetrotters' former nemesis, the Washington Senators. The New Jersey Nets finally won their first game under new head coach Kiki Vandeweghe but are similarly bad against the spread (2-8 ATS in their last 10).
Surely the Bulls have enough pride to rip the Nets, or do they? Chicago is a 7-point favorite with a total of 192.
Magic show on the road
Orlando is looking to win a franchise-record eighth straight road game tonight against the L.A. Clippers. The Clips have lost their last five straight up against the Magic but are 4-1 SU in their last five home games. The Magic are 12-8 ATS this season while the Clips are just the opposite. Orlando i