In defence of Mr. Jones

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Fred Jones has been taking a lot of heat for his recent shooting problems, but Raptors coach Sam Mitchell made a point of praising the guard yesterday.

While Jones has hit just one field goal in the past four games and lost his spot in the ever-changing starting lineup Friday, Mitchell feels the Oregon product has been doing other important things that have helped the Raptors win four of the past five games.

"I thought the object was to win," Mitchell said. "If one guy is struggling and we're winning games, what difference does it make? Maybe he's doing something on the court that's helping us in other areas. You guys look at field goal percentage, I look at the defence, the rebounding, being where he's supposed to be, all those other things.

"We're constantly telling players you can still play even though you're not making shots. Now you're telling them if they don't make shots, they can't play, (or) I shouldn't play them.

"Is it more important for us to win the game or is it more important for Freddy to go 10-for-10 and we lose? I know what's important to me."

MO WILL HAVE TO EARN IT

With Morris Peterson set to return after missing the past seven games with an elbow injury, there has been speculation Jones could lose some minutes. But it doesn't sound as though Mitchell is going to push Peterson into a more prominent role after Mo Pete lost his spot in the starting lineup to Jones last month before the injury.

"If I see a need to put Mo in the game, I'll put him in the game," Mitchell said. "I'm not going to jump anybody ahead of anybody when we've been playing pretty good."

WHO WILL START?

With Chris Bosh (eye) questionable, Mitchell has been thinking about a potential starting lineup, minus the team's star, for a game tonight in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. But barring injuries, it seems point guard T.J. Ford and Bosh are the only sure things in the starting five.

"Other than those two guys, I just think the other guys, it really doesn't matter with those guys who starts," Mitchell said. "I think we have a unique situation where we can kind of change our lineup on a game-to-game basis depending on who we're playing."


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