There is a silver lining

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 1:09 PM ET

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell sees a silver lining in all the key injuries the team has suffered this season.

Currently, the squad is without their all-star power forward Chris Bosh, who has missed the last four games with a bone bruise in his left knee.

The Raptors have also been without the services of veteran swingman Morris Peterson for seven games because of a partial tendon tear in his left elbow, (Peterson returned last week) and were without the services of emerging rookie star Andrea Bargnani last week in Chicago because of a sore back.

Mitchell believes that the team will only be stronger once all the pieces are back together.

"The good thing about it is, going through this time now, a lot more guys are being counted on for more production, and they're doing it," Mitchell said. "So you think, when you get healthy, it's going to make you a better basketball team."

Bosh, who will also miss tomorrow's game at the Air Canada Centre against Golden State, will continue therapy and rehabilitation and is expected to travel with the team for a four-game road trip to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle next week.

AMAZING ANDREA

Mitchell is all enthusiastic about the play of late from rookie forward Andrea Bargnani.

More than his offensive output (Bargnani is averaging 14 points in his last four games), the coach was raving about his defensive work, which he believes is largely overlooked.

"I think the most surprising thing for us is we thought he would really struggle with the defence terminology," Mitchell said. "But once you show him, he just picks it up. We do our defensive grades and Andrea is at the percentage that we want him to be most nights."

The Raps coaching staff grades players on their defensive work for each game, such as challenging shots, being in the right spot on the court, etc.

"We want our guys to be at 80% or better. He grades up 80% or above," the coach.

AROUND THE RIM

The Raptors each received a Christmas gift from management yesterday, a Playstation 3 ... Last night's sell-out at the ACC was the third of the season. Raptors ticket sales have increased 20% over the same period a year ago.


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