Raps get Mo help

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

The kids are all right.

And so is a key veteran.

Morris Peterson rebounded last night from a slow start to his pre-season and rookie Joey Graham followed in the impressive footsteps of fellow freshmen Jose Calderon and Charlie Villanueva as the Raptors beat the Boston Celtics 93-83 last night before 13,298 fans at the Air Canada Centre.

Graham (20 points) and Peterson (21 points), both coming off injuries, stood out at both ends of the floor and led the Raptors (2-3) to their second win in a row after the team opened the pre-season with three consecutive losses.

"I thought it started on the defensive end for us," Peterson said. "We got some defensive stops and got some easy baskets and I think that really kind of opened my game up."

The Celtics' 83-point total was just two off the Raptors opponent season-low from last season (81 for the New York Knicks on Jan. 19). And after four pre-season games where they committed at least 30 fouls, the Raptors were whistled for fouls just 18 times last night. Defence, of course, was a huge problem for the Raptors last season.

"It's something we've been stressing in practice, having officials in practice, so our guys can get used to it," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "That's something we're going to continue to do throughout the year at times just so we can keep driving home that message that you've got to play defence with your feet."

Graham, who missed the past three games with tendinitis in his left knee, had trouble guarding Celtics star Paul Pierce early but settled down and played 34 solid minutes. He showcased a good inside/outside game and, despite making a few rookie mistakes, like a basket that was waved off after he grabbed the rim with his left hand and dunked with his right and another missed dunk later, looked like he belonged. He also hit a couple of big jumpers in the fourth quarter, a period when Villanueva also stepped up.

"My concentration wasn't on scoring any points," said Graham, who was 9-for-14 from the field.

"My offence came to me just from my defence."

Mitchell gave Graham and Calderon their first NBA starts last night. Those guys, and the rest of the team, moved the ball well as the Raptors notched 24 assists on 34 baskets.

Peterson, who missed the previous game with a sprained right ankle and had minor back and ankle injuries in training camp, was a sparkplug at both ends of the floor, notching four steals and 12 points in an outstanding second quarter. Peterson hit just five of 29 shots in his first three games.

MAKE AND MISS

"You're going to make shots, you're going to miss shots," he said. "My whole thing is I'm going to let the game come to me. If I miss 10 shots in a row, I'm still going to shoot."

Matt Bonner, who injured his right calf last week but played through pain, sat out last night and joined forwards Pape Sow (groin) and Eric Williams (knee) on the injured list. Williams expects to make his pre-season debut tomorrow night against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Columbus, Ohio.


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