Raptors all for one

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell has molded his team into a group of unselfish players worried less about...

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell has molded his team into a group of unselfish players worried less about personal scoring averages or minutes played than they are the final outcome. (Sun Media/Fred Thornhill)

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Good things happen to good people. It's one of Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo's basic beliefs and it's playing out right before his eyes.

One of the big differences between this year's Raptors and the versions that preceded it is a willingness to share the ball. Two or three passes are nice but four or five are better and that kind of ball movement, if done properly, ultimately leads to open shots.

Open shots lead to high-percentage shooting and high-percentage shooting leads to higher scoring and more wins.

It's a simple formula but one that demands a group of unselfish players worried less about personal scoring averages or minutes played than they are the final outcome.

The result has been a much-improved product. The Raptors play host to the Orlando Magic tonight having won 12 of their past 16 putting them 31/2 games clear of their nearest opponent for first place in the Atlantic Conference.

"We knew we had a good group of guys," coach Sam Mitchell said. "If you're going to have a winning team, you have to make sacrifices. If you don't have guys willing to make sacrifices, it's going to be tough."

Mitchell can take you down his entire roster, player by player, and point out the sacrifices each has made.

"Chris Bosh has made two all-star teams and he has never come to me and said a word about touches. Never," Mitchell said.

Morris Peterson never has complained about the lack of plays run for him. T.J. Ford asked that Mitchell stay with Jose Calderon as his starting point guard when Ford returned to play at less than 100% after an injury.

And when they're asked to step aside to let another carry the load, these Raptors have done that, too.

"Not everyone can play and not everyone is always going to be happy about their playing situation," Colangelo said. "But at the end of the day you don't have bad people creating problems for you. I would say that when guys have been relegated to the bench, just about every one of them has gone up to the gym, worked hard on developing their game and won back the confidence of the coach."

For his part, Bosh says it's in his best interest to share the ball, what with all the double teams he sees inside.

"I used to get frustrated with the double team," Bosh said. "Now I hope they double team me because we've got (Jorge Garbajosa), or Anthony Parker or Jose Calderon spotting up in the corner and people don't want that. It's either two points or three points. You take your pick."

It's a choice opponents aren't enjoying, but one that suits the Raptors just fine.


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