Signs of encouragement

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

While there is no such thing as a moral victory, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell had one good reason to smile after a 99-84 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

"They only scored 18 points on us in the paint," Mitchell said. "When was the last time that happened?"

Actually -- under Mitchell -- never. The Raptors' previous opponent low for points in the paint under the second-year coach was 28, five times last season.

"There were a lot of positive things that happened," Mitchell said. "I'm disappointed we lost like anybody would be. But I still see signs of encouragement."

RIDING THE A-TRAIN

Undersized 6-foot-9 centre Aaron (A-Train) Williams wasn't a huge factor in his first start Friday, but at least he didn't look lost, like previous starters Rafael Araujo and Loren Woods.

The 34-year-old, who is expected to make his second start of the season today against the Seattle SuperSonics, helped the Raptors improve their woeful interior defence and made life a bit easier for star forward Chris Bosh.

"It helps a lot, just to that somebody's there," Bosh said. "That means you can pressure up on your guy a little more because you know a big, strong guy like that is waiting to block somebody's shot."

VERSATILITY PAYS OFF

While Matt Bonner said earlier this week switching to small forward from power forward has been a major challenge this season, he's open to doing a little bit of everything.

Against Utah, Mitchell made him the first player off the bench and he replaced Williams at centre, meaning the 6-foot-10 Bonner had to guard 7-foot-2 Greg Ostertag. Bonner, who had his best game of the season by far, did a good job at both ends of the floor and Mitchell said he believes the New Hampshire native can be effective against some centres. It allows the Raptors to play small ball, something they want to do to create matchup problems.

"If coach Mitchell wanted to put me at point guard, I'd do my best to play point guard," Bonner said. "I'm thankful for every minute I get on the court."


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