Rafer cool over past

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Rafer Alston enjoyed reading about his troubled past during the past few days.

All the newspaper reports detailing his off-court problems made the Raptors point guard realize he's made some strides in the past few years.

"I can't believe that I did one or two things," said Alston, who returned from a two-game suspension yesterday after walking out of a practice on Saturday. "So you guys, whoever wrote some of those stories, I'm glad those are out there. It helped me to understand I'm not the person I used to be."

Alston pointed out that nobody is perfect.

"None of us here are angels," he said. "We all have something in our past we've done."

WHO NEEDS SHAQ?

Alston was asked yesterday about his decision to sign a six-year deal with the Raptors during the off-season after playing with the Miami Heat last season.

"It would have been easy to stay down in South Beach and hopped on a jet ski and jump on Shaq's back, but that's easy," he said. "I came here to help this organization turn things around, and that's what I want to do."

KEEPING QUIET

When Jalen Rose was benched earlier this season, he wasn't shy about saying he should be a starter. But when he was asked if Alston should re-claim his starter's role after his suspension, Rose smiled and offered a tame response.

"That's a coach's decision. Who am I to answer that question?" Rose said. "I don't know. That's one question I have no comment for."

MAKING A STATEMENT

Nobody is ready to consider point guard Milt Palacio a starter just yet, but he made some good decisions down the stretch in a 98-97 win over the Indiana Pacers. With Alston out, Palacio played for 46 important minutes and had nine rebounds, seven assists and 13 points.

"I had to play a lot of minutes and guys looked at me to come in and make plays and play well," Palacio said. "I just tried to provide some leadership out there."


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