Winning's a good thing

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Amazing what a win can do for a team's mood.

The Raptors, fresh off their first win of the season, a 107-94 victory over the Miami Heat Sunday at the Air Canada Centre, appeared loose and happy at an upbeat practice yesterday in Phoenix.

An impromptu football game broke out at the end of practice yesterday, something that probably would not have occurred during their ugly season-opening nine-game season opening losing skid. No word on whether former high school quarterback Mike James, the Raptors' starting point guard, has decided to take a shot at the NFL after a return to football yesterday.

He's got more pressing concerns tonight as he'll match up against reigning NBA MVP Steve Nash, the point guard for the Phoenix Suns, to open a four-game road swing.

RUMOUR CENTRAL

With the Raptors struggling, expect to hear plenty of talk about potential candidates to replace general manager Rob Babcock. The latest speculation, from the New York Daily News, has Denver Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe and ex-Orlando Magic GM John Gabriel as possible hires.

A HELPING HAND

If Charlie Villanueva is feeling down, he can pick up the phone and call old college buddy Ben Gordon.

The Raptors rookie forward remains tight with his old teammate at the University of Connecticut, who started his NBA career with nine consecutive losses with the Chicago Bulls last season before helping his pro team make an improbable run to the playoffs.

"Last year they were in the same situation," Villanueva said "Look at them. They went to the playoffs. We still have a chance."

FIRE ALERT

Fans sitting near the court Sunday at the Air Canada Centre may have noticed the smell of something burning.

Turns out there was a mini-crisis brewing in press row, where the Miami Heat's Spanish-language radio crew's fuse went up in smoke.

The broadcasters, the Miami Herald reports, put out the smoke with stat sheets.


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