Raptors silence Jazz

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

The first after-shock from the Vince Carter trade was felt last night and it rattled Jalen Rose.

But for one night at least, a potential distraction did not derail the Raptors.

With an unhappy Rose removed from the starting lineup and newly acquired Eric Williams taking his place, the Raptors (10-18) beat the Utah Jazz 98-86 before 17,479 at the Air Canada Centre.

On a night when Donyell Marshall shined with a game-high 22 points, Rafer Alston broke out of a slump with 14 assists and the Raptors won their third home game in a row, as usual, the team had to deal with some turmoil.

Rose, wearing all black, including black earrings, after the game to symbolize his feelings, was informed of coach Sam Mitchell's decision before the game in a meeting with Mitchell, general manager Rob Babcock and senior adviser to the GM Wayne Embry.

"To be honest, I feel like I've been shown the door," said Rose, who has been in the middle of trade rumours all season. "I'm just waiting to see what's going to happen."

Rose, however, said he is not planning to request a trade.

"I'm not going to give anybody the leverage to say I'm not being a pro," he said. "I'm not going to steal any of the glory from the win, but I know I'm a starter in today's league."

Babcock, for his part, said the move has nothing to do with a potential trade of Rose.

"We need to win more basketball games and the coaches are looking at different ways to induce more defence and that's the only reason why," he said. "It has nothing to do with a step to showing (Rose) the door or anything like that."

Rose, to his credit, came off the bench in the first quarter and started off red-hot, hitting his first four shots from the field. But he cooled down considerably, finishing with 12 points, all in the first half. He played 20 minutes

LIVED UP TO BILLING

Williams, as advertised, was a workhorse under the basket and recorded eight rebounds. He also scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

"What I bring to the team, I don't necessarily need to run any plays," he said. "It's more being vocal on the defensive end and trying to help some of our young big guys understand what it takes to win on the defensive end. That's what I'm here to do. I just wanted to go out there and set the tone with energy more than anything."

Added Mitchell: "We're not expecting Eric to go out and get 20 points, 10 rebounds. We just want him to go out do the things that he does -- hard work, give us some extra possessions, defence, rebounding -- and Eric can score."

The Raptors held their opponent to a season-low 86 points. On another positive note, they finished the game with a season-best 29 assists on 33 field goals. The Jazz, led by Carlos Boozer's 29 points, whittled a 60-42 deficit down to two points in the fourth quarter. But the Raptors held on.

"We need a total team effort every night," Alston said. "That was a great way to get a victory -- everybody contributing, myself sharing the ball and the good thing is we did it defensively, too."

The Raptors return to action on Boxing Day in Phoenix against the Suns.


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