Mitchell praises his bench

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said yesterday that one of the most valuable lessons he learned from Larry Brown, his former coach, was that the guys who aren't playing much are the guys who can make or break a team.

"He said, 'Don't ever underestimate the guys sitting on the end of the bench. Because they can kill your team,' " said Mitchell. "Chris Bosh ain't making no sacrifice. He's playing 40 minutes a game. Freddy Jones is making a sacrifice. The guys who are not playing consistently are making sacrifices, because they want to play."

Mitchell praised Jones and the other players on the Raptors roster who haven't played much recently, including Darrick Martin and Uros Slokar, for keeping a positive attitude, practising hard and being ready to play if called upon.

A perfect example was when Jose Calderon was unable to back up T.J. Ford in Los Angeles on Dec. 20 against the Clippers because of a back injury. Martin, who had only played twice in the previous 10 games, came through with 12 points and four assists in Toronto's 98-96 victory. He didn't play the next game when Calderon returned.

"Don't think I ever take anything lightly when it comes to dealing with those guys. It wasn't easy taking Mo (Peterson) out of the starting lineup, because we've gone through some tough times together."

TUCKER RETURNS

The Raptors recalled rookie forward P.J. Tucker from the Colorado 14ers of the NBA Development League. Tucker was assigned to the D-League on Jan. 5, and appeared in 14 games with the 14ers, averaging 10.3 points and 3.2 rebounds.

FORD STILL SORE

Regular starting point guard Ford played 21 minutes against the L.A. Clippers on Sunday in his third game back from an ankle injury, and was admittedly a little sore in practice yesterday, which means that Calderon will probably start tomorrow against the Orlando Magic at the ACC.

"The good thing is, there's no rush for him to have to play 38 minutes a game because Jose has done an unbelievable job," said Mitchell.

AROUND THE RIM

Bosh and Ford will appear on Much More Music today, spinning their favorite tunes ... Rookie forward Andrea Bargnani will do a photo shoot for the Italian GQ Magazine.


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