Take a seat Fred

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

Head coach Sam Mitchell continues to shuffle the starting lineup and the latest victim is Fred Jones.

Jones was replaced as the starting small forward last night against the visiting Boston Celtics by second-year forward Joey Graham.

Jones has struggled this season, shooting 38% from the field. Last season, with the Indiana Pacers, he shot 42%.

Graham, on the other hand, has been playing well of late, averaging 12.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in his last five games and is shooting 45% from the floor.

But Mitchell said the change is more to bring some size into the starting lineup against teams such as Boston and the New York Knicks. Graham stands 6-7 while Jones is listed at 6-2.

"We may be one of those teams who can interchange our lineup depending on who we're playing," said Mitchell, who will likely will start Graham tonight in New York as well. "Our starting lineup is not etched in stone."

Jones, who became a regular starter this season for the first time in his career, was disappointed with the move, but more disappointed in himself, not with Mitchell.

"Of course you don't want to be taken out of the lineup," he said. "Everybody in this league plays to be a starter. But I was given the opportunity and I would say that I didn't take advantage of it.

Graham relished the chance to start or first time this season.

"Any time I can get out and get some minutes, I'm happy," he said, adding that he prepared for last night's game the same way he always prepares.

Basically, other than power forward Chris Bosh and point guard T.J. Ford, nothing has been etched in stone this season as far as the starting lineup is concerned.

AROUND THE RIM

Swingman Morris Peterson missed last night's game because of a partial tear in his left elbow. He was placed on the inactive list on Nov.22 ... Mitchell refuses to use the tough schedule as an excuse for any losses this season, nor does he target games against other Eastern Conference teams as must-wins. "If you start doing that, then what are you saying, the other games are not important?," he said. "The way it works, the team with the most wins, at the end of the season, regardless of who they're against, will be playing in April."


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