A little tough love

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

To Raptors fans with a sensitive streak, watching veteran guard Mike James and star forward Chris Bosh go at it on the court can be a little disturbing.

The two can often be seen yammering at each other. In fact, sometimes it looks as though there's some genuine hatred there.

But that, according to the two involved, and head coach Sam Mitchell, couldn't be further from the truth. Bosh and James have become so close that they have developed a relationship where they can say anything to each other, without the other getting upset. And during the heat of a game, often many of those words are not politically correct.

"What they're doing is challenging each other to be better," Mitchell said. "And that's what happens in the heat of the battle. What I tend to do when that happens, is to take a step back and let them work it out. It's a good thing. Mike expects certain things from Chris and Chris expects certain things from Mike."

"Chris is my boy," said James, when asked about his on-court relationship with Bosh. "It's just us being competitive. You watch any good team, when you demand or expect something from a player and they're not giving that or they're starting the game off a little lackadaisical, you get on them ... But it goes both ways," he added. "When he sees me not playing hard, he gets on me."

Bosh, who will likely be selected for the All-Star game next month, has enjoyed having James in the backcourt.

"We just demand the best out of each other," he said.

MUCH NEEDED REST

Following tomorrow's game against Atlantic Division rival New York, the Raptors embark on a gruelling eight-day, five game trip in the West, so Mitchell gave him squad the opportunity for two days off this week, particularly rookies, Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham and Jose Calderon, who seem to have hit the wall.

"Whether you believe in it or not, it happens to 95% of the rookies in the NBA," Mitchell said. "It's just mental fatigue. They're not used to this grind, and we're not even half-way there yet.

"You just got to keep working and try not to think about it and get your rest," he added. "A lot of it is concentration. Yeah you're body gets tired but you've got to learn how to concentrate and focus."


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