Taking on the big guns

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

The Raptors are in the midst of a potentially back-breaking test on defence.

It will be interesting to look at coach Sam Mitchell's new defensive grades after the next two games.

Tonight, the Raptors face league-leading scorer Allen Iverson and his Philadelphia 76ers and then play host to second-leading scorer (entering last night) Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks.

Iverson, by the way, is the career leading scorer against the Raptors (30.7 points).

Already this season, the Raptors have faced No. 5 scorer Vince Carter of the New Jersey Nets and No. 4 Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks.

"In the NBA, you play against the best players in the world," Raptors rookie forward Jorge Garbajosa said.

"But if you want to be a good team and want to compete with the (top) teams, the right way to improve is this one."

A COACH WITH GAME

Mitchell, who ended his playing career in 2002, remembers how to do a few things on the court.

Yesterday after practice, with reporters on hand, Mitchell effortlessly drained seven consecutive shots from 20 feet and then nailed five three-pointers in a row after a couple of misses from long range.

Of course, no one was guarding him and he didn't have to move much, which isn't a strength of his lately as evidenced by his back pain after a recent practice when he got a little too involved on the court.

POLITICALLY CORRECT

Raptors point guard T.J. Ford did the safe thing yesterday when he was asked who was faster -- him or Iverson.

"I don't know," Ford said. "We don't get extra points for being faster. It's not a track meet. He's quick, he's definitely quick. He still has great speed, he changes direction pretty good. He does a lot of things I can't do and I do things that he can't do."

BRIEFLY

Iverson's favourite actor is Samuel L. Jackson, who happens to be a regular at Raptors games. That can't be good news for the Raps ... Chris Bosh, Ford, P.J. Tucker and Pape Sow helped the Raptors launch their annual Read To Achieve program yesterday with students from four elementary schools at the Ontario Science Centre.


Videos

Photos