Time on MoPete's side

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

At the start of the season, Morris Peterson had trouble getting off the bench.

Now, the Toronto Raptors swingman spends about as much time sitting down as an assembly-line worker.

Peterson, whose work ethic used to be questioned, has become a true minuteman under coach Sam Mitchell and is showing no signs of slowing down.

"Coach just told me when I need a rest to tell him," MoPete said yesterday, a day after playing all 48 minutes in a 111-105 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.

"I never called him."

Peterson has played 42 or more minutes the past five games and 47 or more in four of the past five. All this for a guy who came off the bench for the first five games this season before coming out and voicing his concerns about his inconsistent minutes.

Since then, he has been a constant in the starting lineup and he certainly is not about to tell Mitchell he needs a break in the middle of his best season of his six-year NBA career.

"Of course, I get tired," Peterson said. "But we've got a lot of big games coming up and you've just got to be ready to play."

Peterson isn't the only one with a heavy workload. The Raptors foursome of Peterson, Charlie Villanueva, Mike James and Chris Bosh is averaging 42 minutes per game each.

"I didn't expect to play this much," Peterson said. "Coach is showing the confidence in me to go out there, get thee job done and play hard. When I'm out there, I try to just do what I can to help the team."

Peterson, who is averaging career highs in all the key categories, will have two more tough defensive assignments as the Raptors play a home-and-home series against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, beginning tonight in Ohio.

With shot-happy players like Vince Carter and Jalen Rose off the team, Peterson has become a more important part of the team's offence and that is helping him defensive end.

"The thing I try to do is when I'm checking the guy who is the primary scorer on the (opposing) team, the past 15 or 20 games, I've been concentrating on making those guys work on defence," Peterson said. "Instead of them coming down and resting on defence and me sitting in the corner, I'm just trying to have more opportunities where I can get those guys working and get those guys tired so it won't be a one-way street."


Photos