Winning takes the edge off

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

So Dr. Phil's feel-good Raptors are 0-1.

Maybe they should go back to feuding.

But of course, they never really were feuding, right? It all was a concoction of the media.

Those damn reporters with their probing questions, such as, "Hi, Jalen."

That's the hard-hitting query that preceded Jalen Rose's vague but vicious attack on some of his teammates last Wednesday after the Raptors had lost to the Orlando Magic in ignominious fashion.

The subsequent couple of days were turbulent ones, with point guard Rafer Alston -- who, like the media, correctly interpreted Rose's comments as being directed mainly at Alston -- reacting with harsh words of his own.

Then came a game on Friday in Charlotte during which a no-pass rule seemed to apply.

On Saturday, however, the Raptors had a big meeting and now Rose and Alston are going to be riding around Toronto on a bicycle built for two as soon as the weather clears up.

You know, we like both Rose and Alston quite a bit. That's why it was disappointing that when the obvious tension between them finally bubbled over, there was an attempt to brush it off as a media creation, when both of them know better.

Not everything is the media's fault, and we have confidence Raptors general manager Rob Babcock is smart enough to know that.

For example, we're not sure whose fault it was when Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons soared through the air for a clean block on an Alston breakaway layup attempt in the first quarter at the Air Canada Centre last night.

Prince then dove into the Raptors' bench to save the loose ball, which led to a three-pointer by Detroit teammate Richard Hamilton.

It really was an eye-popping sequence, and it reminded one of a similar block Prince made in the playoffs last spring during Detroit's march to a championship.

Last night, the Pistons went on to win the game 113-103, which dropped the Raptors' record to 30-43 on the season.

With nine games to play, the Raptors will have to win four of them to emerge with a better record than they did a year ago, and that campaign was deemed lousy enough to get both the general manager and the coach fired.

But neither Babcock nor coach Sam Mitchell is going anywhere at the end of this season, barring unforeseen circumstances.

Therefore, they both will have plenty of work to do this summer when it comes to deciding which players are going to go, and improving the games and the attitudes of the ones who are going to stay.

The Raptors have both talent issues and chemistry issues, protests to the contrary notwithstanding.

Rose yesterday was asked how the Raptors can be fixed.

"I'm not sure -- that's why the guys upstairs get paid the big bucks," said Rose, whose salary is more than $14 million US.

"I'm just a player. I'm just an employee. I'm not consulted on anything that's said or done."

A team like the Pistons has a lot of explosive personalities and occasionally encounters chemistry issues, too. The uncertainty regarding the health of head coach Larry Brown has added another layer of intrigue this season.

The thing is, the Pistons have amassed enough talent and win enough games that when there's the odd flare-up -- and just about everything comes out in the media eventually, be it big or small -- it's not the only thing going on.

Case in point: Had the Raptors been in the middle of a serious playoff push last week, anything that was said by Rose or Alston would not have meant so much to anyone, either inside or outside the organization.

It's a lot easier to get along, or at least to be seen to be getting along, when you're really good.

The Raptors have a ways to go on both fronts.


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