Rose backs Malone

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:07 AM ET

Jalen Rose wasn't playing for the Raptors when Brendan Malone was coaching the team in its expansion 1995-96 season, but he is quite familiar with the new Cleveland Cavaliers coach.

Malone was an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers while Rose was playing with the team from 2000 to 2002.

"I played for Brendan Malone and I really like him," Rose said. "I've known him since I was young when he was (an assistant with the) Pistons. I played for him in Indiana and I think he's a real good guy and a real great basketball mind. If he's getting the opportunity, I'm happy for him."

Malone was elevated to interim coach from assistant coach yesterday after the Cavs fired Paul Silas.

NOT OVER YET

At 28-38, the Raptors certainly do not look like a playoff team. But they entered last night's play only four games out of a playoff spot.

Rose figures 39 wins can get a team to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. To reach that target, the Raptors would need to go 11-5 in their final 16 games.

"We've got to have a winning streak, that's just the bottom line," Rose said. "Any time you've got double digit games left like we do and you're in the (weaker) Eastern Conference, you're two good weeks away from being in the seventh spot."

TOUGH ROAD AHEAD

Not only do the Raptors have a five-game road swing starting later this week, their next game is against a team that always gives them trouble.

The Chicago Bulls, who visit the Air Canada Centre tomorrow, have won their past seven games against the Raptors. Toronto hasn't beat the Bulls since Dec. 6, 2002.

"They have a lot of perimeter shooters and they move the ball well," said Raptors sophomore forward Chris Bosh, who never has tasted victory against the Bulls.

HOFFA RETURNS

Raptors rookie centre Rafael Araujo, who missed a 105-98 win over the Cavs Sunday because of flu-like symptoms, practised yesterday.


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