Raps getting physical

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

The Raptors couldn't seem to see straight yesterday.

Rookie Andrea Bargnani and swingman Morris Peterson missed parts of practice with minor injuries in the eye area, but both are expected to play tonight in the season opener in New Jersey against the Nets.

Peterson visited a doctor after he was poked in the eye in practice Monday.

Bargnani took an elbow just above the right eye and required stitches to close the gash.

"(Bargnani) came out of a crowd and he had a little cut," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "It's nothing major."

JUST SAY NO

A popular expression in the campaign preventing kids from taking drugs is just say no, but Mitchell wouldn't mind if Bargnani thinks of the same phrase once in a while when dealing with what is expected to be a large international media contingent.

"We've got people (and) that's their job to monitor that (the amount of media requests)," Mitchell said.

"There's a very important word in a young man's life he's got to learn to (use for) all of you guys. 'No, can't do it.' He's going to have to learn to say no. It's an important word."

The Raptors dressing room in New Jersey is expected to be packed with reporters from Italy and Spain tonight to follow Bargnani and Spaniards Jorge Garbajosa and Jose Calderon.

With Toronto being such a diverse city, the European-born players are expected to be popular media targets most of the season.

LET'S GET IT STARTED

The Raptors are a mediocre 5-6 in season openers, but they enjoy facing New Jersey to tip off campaigns.

Two of the Raptors' season opening wins have come against the Nets -- their inaugural game at the SkyDome in 1995 and a victory on Halloween 2003 at the Air Canada Centre.

The road debut this season marks the first time the Raptors have opened away from the ACC since 2001 when they lost 114-85 against the host Orlando Magic.

Meanwhile, the Raptors' starting lineup tonight will feature only one returnee from 2006 -- Chris Bosh. The other starters in the 2006 opener were Joey Graham, Mike James, Jalen Rose and Loren Woods. Of that group, only Graham reamains with the team.


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