He asked for it

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:01 AM ET

Sam Mitchell didn't ask for this kind of pressure, this kind of tension, this kind of unpredictability. Oh, wait a minute. He did. And he understands that, too.

"I haven't had one day where I felt like, 'What did I get myself into?' " the rookie head coach of the Raptors said last night. "I'm being honest.

"It's like someone asking the president of the United States, 'Aren't there days when you wish you weren't president?' He should say no. Because I asked for this. No one made me do this. No one drafted me."

At some point in the future, a form of conscription may be needed to find Raptors coaches. Can't you picture a pretty young wife in tears as Air Canada Centre security guards drag some unsuspecting clod into the locker room?

But last night was one of the refreshingly good nights for Mitchell, whose Raptors snapped a seven-game losing streak with a stirring and emotional 96-90 victory over the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

Who can find fault with an evening on which the home crowd was chanting "Bon-ner!, Bon-ner!" -- kind of like "Do-mi, Do-mi" -- in tribute to Raptors rookie Matt Bonner, who was kicked out of the game after what was ruled a "flagrant foul 2" against T-Wolves superstar Kevin Garnett late in the fourth quarter?

This was Sam Mitchell's kind of basketball. Physical. Gritty. Gutsy. A small step forward, perhaps?

Mitchell was quick to point out, however, that his idea of hard-nosed play does not involve having players getting thrown out on a regular basis. Mitchell did not think Bonner deserved to get tossed, and the Raptors will appeal to the NBA to try to avoid the automatic one-game suspension for Bonner that goes along with a flagrant 2.

"It was a hard foul, but that didn't even spark me till (Bonner) pointed at the crowd like he's some kind of enforcer," Garnett said. "It was a bull---- play."

There were no hard feelings between Garnett and Mitchell, however, who were teammates in Minnesota.

After the game, Mitchell spoke with Garnett privately for at least 15 minutes back near the showers in the Minnesota locker room.

"We weren't in the showers," Garnett said, prompting laughter. "We just rapped. I had to pat him on the (butt) and tell him 'good game,' but we get to see them again.

PASSION

"Everything Sam is involved in, there's passion in it. He's a blue-collar guy. He's not going to take what you give him. He's going to push for more, push for more."

Win or lose -- and there has been more of the latter than the former, as the victory improved the Raptors' record to 8-16 -- the sporadically volatile Mitchell calmly insisted he is keeping things in perspective.

"My worst day coaching beats anything professionally that I ever wanted to do," Mitchell said.

There have been quite a few early candidates for Mitchell's "worst day coaching." Yesterday did not qualify.

But no day in Raptorland would be complete without another Vince Carter trade rumour.

While the New York Knicks remain the most intent suitor for Carter -- the enigmatic Raptors guard who is on the injured list with a strained left Achilles tendon -- there were rumblings yesterday that the Houston Rockets could be a candidate to make it a three-way transaction.

However, there doesn't appear to be too much substance to those whispers at this point.

A Carter trade to the Big Apple still could happen as soon as today. If not, Mitchell has to keep drilling for oil.

"It's my job to coach the pieces we have," Mitchell said. "So when I walk into that locker room, I have to believe, and I believe every day that we can win."

Mitchell's belief was Mitchell's reality last night.

After all, he asked for this.


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