Third unit holds court

Chris Bosh scolded himself for playing poorly at practice yesterday. (Sun Media File/Greg Henkenhaf)

Chris Bosh scolded himself for playing poorly at practice yesterday. (Sun Media File/Greg Henkenhaf)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:08 PM ET

The players on the Raptors' first unit, if you can call it that, had their heads handed to them on a platter yesterday during a scrimmage, and coach Sam Mitchell couldn't be happier.

A unit consisting of Darrick Martin, Luke Jackson, Kris Humphries, Joey Graham and Maceo Baston, non-starters and non-rotation players, dominated in a series of scrimmages at the team's Air Canada Centre practice court.

What that shows Mitchell is that the fringe players are starting to come around. And with the season set to begin on Oct. 31, when the Philadelphia 76ers invade the ACC, that's a good sign, as there are times during the season when decent teams have to rely on non-rotation players.

"If I told you, you wouldn't believe it," Mitchell said of that third unit, which dominated yesterday's scrimmages. "They played outstanding."

In one scrimmage, that not-so-fab five beat a unit consisting of four of the club's five starters: Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker, Andrea Bargnani and T.J. Ford, along with newcomer Jamario Moon.

Bosh scolded himself for playing poorly, but he and his coach were delighted he made it through a full contact practice in one piece. Bosh began to practise only this week after tweaking his left knee during the club's training camp in Treviso, Italy.

"I was a little stiff from (the first practice on Monday). But I think, all in all, it was good," he said. "To me, a good practice is just getting up and down (the court). I missed a lot of free throws, I missed a lot of shots, but after I get better conditioned, I think I'll be able to knock all that stuff down."

Bosh missed a slew of practices early last season because of plantar faciitis, and for much of last season, he hid that pain from the club. This year, Mitchell is all over his star player to let the team know if any part of his body is sore. The organization would rather have him miss practice than struggle in games because of pain, which he did last season.

"The biggest thing with Chris we stress is just tell us the truth, don't try to play through something at this stage of the season. Just be honest with us," the coach said. "And so far he says he feels pretty good."

Mitchell said if Bosh is able to practise again today, he'll play tomorrow night in a pre-season game at the ACC against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The club attended an NBA security meeting at the ACC yesterday following practice. Before every season, the league sends a team of security experts to discus such issues as gambling and player conduct. Mitchell said the meetings are routine but necessary.

"We (the NBA) do these meetings every year and somebody still gets in trouble every year, so, you gotta do it," Mitchell said. "I think what the NBA is trying to do is be proactive -- don't wait until you have a problem, try to head off problems. And that's the thing we try to get our players to understand. We're trying to stop you before you make a mistake."

"It's all just common sense," Bosh said. "You do the things you're supposed to do, be at the places you're supposed to be at. If you do that, you can't go wrong."

Bosh said players can enjoy the NBA lifestyle without getting into trouble.

"We have a lot of fun," he said. "We go to movies, go out to dinner, whatever, keep everything clean, stay out of trouble. That's the kind of thing we do naturally."


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