Coach not giving up

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell has told his players not to get caught up in the playoff race.

Mitchell believes that if his team concentrates on just playing, and not watching the standings, good things can happen and a playoff spot in the weak Atlantic Division can be attained, even though the Raptors are 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot (heading into last night's game).

"You never know," Mitchell said. "I still believe it's going to be four teams (in the race) and it's going to come down to the last week of the season.

"Over a five game stretch, the whole thing can change. It's just that weird," he added. "If you can put together six out of eight or seven out of nine, you're going to be back in it."

Mitchell admitted that his Raptors definitely have their backs against the wall though because they have five teams to pass to get first in the Atlantic, and a playoff berth, as well as the fact that there is no superstar scorer on the Raps.

"The thing could separate teams is, when you have an Allen Iverson (Philadelphia), you have a Paul Pierce (Boston), you have a Jason Kidd and Vince Carter (New Jersey), those three teams are looking pretty good, just from a standpoint they have one guy who can win a game. That does them give them an edge," he said.

MO THE THESPIAN

Morris Peterson may want to consider acting when his NBA career is over. The Raptors' starting small forward hurt his knee against Memphis on Friday and was pulled from Sunday's game in New Orleans.

When asked if he was a go for last night's game, Peterson looked downcast and delivered the bad news.

"It's really sore," he said in a whisper, shaking his head. "It's worse than yesterday. I'm going to out there and get some shots and see how I feel, but ..."

Suddenly, Peterson's demeanor changed. He smiled and said: "I'm playing with you. I can play. They'd have to cut my leg off for me not to play."


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