Joey steps up his game

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell likes what he has seen when he has summoned forward Joey Graham off the bench recently.

Graham scored 15 points and added five rebounds in Sunday's 116-111 win over the Washington Wizards and brought a noticeable energy boost to the team.

"I give all the credit to Joey," Mitchell said yesterday when asked about Graham's contributions.

"Whatever he has done the last two games, I'm afraid to ask him. I don't want to get in his way.

"If there's a secret, keep it to himself. He makes a difference because he's our most athletic guy.

"He makes a difference when he plays with the energy and effort he has played the last couple of games."

For his part, Graham relished the opportunity to play a significant role in the win.

"It gives you a tremendous confidence booster, coming out like that," Graham said.

NO KIDDING AROUND

New Jersey Nets star Jason Kidd may be bothered by a nagging back the past few days, but the Raptors still see him as a prime threat.

"The biggest thing is that he can do so many things," the Raptors' T.J. Ford said yesterday.

"He can score. He can rebound. There's a lot of different things he can bring to the game you just try to limit what he can do."

As for his own injury woes, Ford practised lightly yesterday despite his wonky ankle.

"My ankle is my ankle," Ford said.

"It continues to get better."

ROAD WARRIORS

Tonight's contest marks the Raptors 20th road game of the season. How brutal is that schedule? The Nets have played just 13 games away from the swamp.

BRIEFLY

Former Raptors centre Loren Woods was signed yesterday by the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League ... Tomorrow's game against the Milwaukee Bucks will be Mitchell's 200th behind the Raptors bench.


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