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By Michael PaysHoes

The beginning of the Toronto Raptors game was horrifically delayed yesterday after a mother and her three small children had the temerity to get themselves killed right before I was finally going to cover my first big sports story.

The murders, which detracted from an otherwise fine night by Toronto Raptors sophomore forward Chris Bosh –he scored 18 points and hauled down 15 rebounds–left all four victims dead.

The game was originally supposed to begin at 7:05 p.m., which meant I would have been able to file for the early edition and write 30 long inches about the epic struggle between ball and rim that is pro basketball. But the start was postponed when Raptors play-by-play man Chuck Swirsky noticed a funny odour coming from the bowels of the Air Canada Centre, where he makes his home on off-days.

Security–or some dude anyway, I was courtside, baby!–discovered the bodies, which were all lifeless. If the lives of those young children were indeed stolen away, then veteran Raptors swingman Morris Peterson might be a prime suspect.

He played with youthful exuberance last night, making 7-9 from the field and adding eight assists. “I felt like a man with a new lease on life,” Peterson said after the game to the only reporter still in the Raptors locker room–me.

The police gave a press conference to announce the intimate, grisly details of the murder and to describe their suspect immediately following the game. Unfortunately, so did Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell.

“The only thing ‘suspect’ was our defence,” said the fiery coach of his team’s 120-118 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. “No effort. Sloppy coverage. We’re just killing our fans.”

Couldn’t have put it any better myself, Sam. The Raptors’ next game is Thursday at Philadelphia, where they will match up against Allen Iverson and the tough interior play of the 76ers. But they don’t send me on the road–it costs too much. We’ll pay for the boxscore, and print that. “We’ve just got to take it one day at a time and we’ll fight through it,” Mitchell said of the team’s losing skid.

“But the season doesn’t go on forever. Pretty soon our playoff situation will be life-and-death.” The funeral for the woman and her three children (of various ages and sexes) is scheduled for Wednesday.

Her husband was devastated, CityTV reported after the game. Global TV reported that an arrest had been made. But I don’t believe any of that. The only arrests at the ACC last night were of the cardiac kind.

What a heart-stopping game, baby! Did I mention I was courtside? That’s where the sports reporters get to sit during the game.

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