No place like home for MoPete

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Morris Peterson usually attracts his fair share of media attention when the Raptors play at the Palace of Auburn Hills, given he is from nearby Flint and played at Michigan State.

But prior to last night's game against the Detroit Pistons, Peterson was surrounded by media wanting to know how he compares the current Raptors squad to the 2001-02 team that took the Pistons to five games in the first round of the playoffs.

Peterson, who was selected to the Sophomore team during all-star weekend that season, suggested while that team, with Vince Carter and Antonio Davis was a little more talented and experienced, this year's version is a closer knit group with a stronger work ethic.

For the record, the underdog Raptors lost the final game in that series, 85-82.

"It definitely has been a long road (since then), but I do see some similarities," Peterson said. "But we're a totally different team than we were in the playoffs the last time here. We have some new guys, but we have a close team."

Peterson said it's nice to come into his hometown with a winning team, one that may be playoff-bound for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

"We're all excited about this team, and excited about where we can go," he said.

Peterson, who secured 20 tickets for family and friends last night, has been money in the bank in the fourth quarter for the Raptors recently. In his past seven home games, he is averaging 5.6 points, is shooting 58% from the field and 53% from beyond the arc. He said the entire team is learning to win late in games.

"If we'd have a five-point lead last year we probably would have made mistakes and turned that five-point lead into a five-point deficit," he said. "Now we're finding ways to get stops and help each other on defence, and that's allowing everything else to run smoother. This team is maturing."

THE OTHER PARKER

Sports Illustrated magazine is running a piece this week on University of Tennessee star Candace Parker, the sister of Raptors forward Anthony Parker. Coincidentally, Parker said of all the players she would love to play one-on-one against, it would be Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers, the guy her brother contained to only 25 points in Friday's 96-92 Toronto win.

"I honestly don't think I would give him any real competition, but playing against him, learning how he works and maneuvers on the court, would be great," she said.

"The way he commands the court is amazing."


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