Raps masters of month

Toronto Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell, along with players Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani, were...

Toronto Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell, along with players Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani, were honoured by the NBA as coach, player and rookie of the month respectively. (Toronto Sun File/Greg Henkenhaf)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

According to the NBA, the Raptors must be the greatest team ever.

That may be a bit of a stretch, but yesterday did represent a high-water mark for the organization.

Head coach Sam Mitchell was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for January while all-star forward Chris Bosh was selected the top player and Andrea Bargnani top rookie.

It was also a good day for Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo, whose former team, the Phoenix Suns, garnered two Western Conference awards -- Steve Nash as player of the month and Mike D'Antoni top coach.

"Someone told me that I took five out of six," Colangelo said with a laugh. "So I'm pretty pleased with that.

"It's great to see the NBA recognize all three of our guys for their contributions," he added. "I think it's a sure sign that the turnaround of the Raptors is happening."

According to a Raptors spokesman, no team has ever won all three awards for the same month. In December, 2004, the Miami Heat won three awards, but for player of the month (Dwyane Wade), coach of the month (Stan Van Gundy) and an NBA community assist honour (Shaquille O'Neal).

Mitchell was recognized for the first time in his three-year career as a head coach after guiding the Raptors to a 10-5 record in January, including a 7-3 mark at home.

Bosh, who was voted to start in the all-star game on Feb. 18 in Las Vegas, averaged 25.4 points and 9.1 rebounds, led the Raptors in scoring 13 times and was the game's leading point-getter on 10 occasions.

He also recorded three games with 14 or more rebounds in January, and set a career-high with six blocks while leading his team to a 90-77 win over Milwaukee.

Bargnani, who was selected to play in the rookie-sophomore game in Las Vegas, posted averages of 11.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 27.0 minutes in 14 games in January. The native of Rome registered 22 points on Jan. 9 in New Jersey, one shy of his career-high and posted double-digit scoring totals in 10 of his 14 games while reaching career highs with seven defensive rebounds on Jan. 12 against Boston, four assists on Jan. 31 against Washington and four steals on Jan. 3 against Phoenix.

Bargnani is the sixth Raptors player to win rookie of the month, joining current teammate Jorge Garbajosa (December, 2006), as well as former Raptors Charlie Villanueva (December 2005), Vince Carter (March and April 1999), Marcus Camby (March '97) and Damon Stoudamire (November '95 and January '96).

Garbajosa also was chosen on Wednesday to play in the rookie-sophomore game.

The only downer on the week for the Raptors was the fact that backup point guard Jose Calderon, who has played exceptionally well filling in for injured starter T.J. Ford, was not named to play in the rookie-sophomore game, despite hope that he would be.

But Mitchell calls the Calderon decision a non-issue.

"I don't know how Jose felt about it," said Mitchell. "(But) he didn't come into my office and lay down on the carpet and cry. That's all I can tell you.

"I think Jose is motivated by the fact he is playing well, our team is playing better and we have an opportunity to accomplish some things that we haven't accomplished in a while (make the playoffs)."


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