Winning ugly not so bad

MIKE GANTER, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 2:28 PM ET

Wins over injury-depleted Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks squads are one thing.

The Dallas Mavericks are a completely different story. Or are they?

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, for one, isn't buying into that.

"We did what we had to do," Mitchell said of winning two games on the just completed three-game trip, the lone loss a disappointing 101-86 defeat in a first-place battle with the New Jersey Nets.

Mitchell's point: The Raptors have also battled their share of injuries. Nobody was downplaying the losses when they were hurting so no one should belittle the wins when they're able to take advantage of teams in a similar situation.

"In New Jersey we didn't play well, but the good thing about the New Jersey game was we had the lead at half time," Mitchell said. "We had just eight points out of our starters and the bench played unbelievable. Our bench has played well. Jose (Calderon) and Andrea (Bargnani) -- those guys, Mo (Peterson) and Joey (Graham), those guys have played well. As a coach I can go to those guys and get production instead of going to them just hoping to hold a lead. Not only can they maintain (a lead), they give us an opportunity to increase too."

Mitchell said even with the Bucks and Celtics down a handful of starters each, the Raptors still had their hands full.

"The last two games those teams were tough for us because (they) put three point guards on the floor ... We can't go with three point guards on the floor. We don't play that way, but to our credit we found a way to win the basketball games. We made plays. We took away Boston's inside game, we trapped (Al) Jefferson and (Kendrick) Perkins and made them a perimeter shooting team. That's what we wanted to do."

Chris Bosh, who rallied after a tough game in New Jersey with two good games in Milwaukee and Boston, is counting on the homecourt advantage to push the Raptors to the next level. They will all have to step up if they want to stay with the high-flying Mavericks, who have won 16 of their past 17 games.

But Bosh, like his coach, believes devaluing the wins over a banged-up Bucks and Celtics squads just isn't right.

"We didn't play the best three games but the point is we won and that's what it always boils down to," Bosh said. "When you're playing like crap and you're still finding a way to win ... that's what good teams do and we're trying to get there."

As for today's game with the Southwest Division-leading Mavs, Bosh says it will be all about matching Dallas' professionalism.

"We know what to expect from them," Bosh said. "We know they're a good basketball team. They're one of the league's best. They're going to come in and be professional. They're not going to run through the motions. We just have to make sure we match their intensity."


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