Raptors put health first

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

There is no exhibition exaltation for Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell.

To Mitchell, the final two games of the pre-season, last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers and tonight back at the Air Canada Centre against the Washington Wizards, are all about survival, although wins are certainly nice.

"The main thing is to be healthy. You want to come out of these games healthy," Mitchell said, "and continue to work on the things we've been working on."

It was mission accomplished on both fronts yesterday, as the Raptors defeated LeBron James and the Cavaliers 111-78 to run their pre-season record to 4-2. They also managed to get out of the contest without any new injuries.

Last night's contest marked the return of forward Chris Bosh, who had missed the previous three pre-season games with a sore left knee suffered in the first week of training camp in Treviso, Italy. The two-time NBAall-star, who wore a brace over the knee, was back in fine form last night, scoring 12 points in 15 minutes with three rebounds.

"It was good to get out there," Bosh said. "I think my conditioning was pretty decent for not playing a game in 10-12 days."

The brace is something Bosh is going to have to get used to as it's likely he will have to wear it for a while.

"It's okay," he said of the brace. "We've been testing a lot of them, just to see which one I'm comfortable with. It's nice and light and does it's job.

"I don't know when the time is right to take it off," he added. "But I can't wait for that day."

The Raptors have to cut one roster spot by Monday (6 p.m.), although Mitchell said nobody will earn or lose a spot based on the final two pre-season games.

"To me, it's more what they've done in practice," he said.

The coach said it would be unfair to judge players in pre-season as some players have logged more minutes against NBA teams while others have played against the three inferior European sides.

Still, it appears to be a three-horse field in terms of what players may be cut; Luke Jackson, Jamario Moon and Juan Dixon.

It's likely that Dixon's $2.9 million salary will come into play -- he may be too expensive to buy out. Moon, who has played well in limited minutes, has only a partially guaranteed contract (at $427,163). Jackson is set to earn $798,308 this season, which the Raptors could buy out without too much of a fuss.

Newcomer Carlos Delfino, whom the Raptors picked up from Detroit in the off-season, had his best game of the pre-season, scoring a team-high 18 points off the bench, along with nine rebounds. Delfino was in a dog-fight with another newcomer, Jason Kapono, and Joey Graham for the starting small forward's job. Despite his big game last night, the job appears to belong to Kapono, who also had a good outing with 12 points, shooting 5-for-8 from the floor.

Anthony Parker, who had the unenviable task of guarding Cavaliers star LeBron James most of the night, scored nine, shooting 3-for-6. James had a big game and, surprisingly, played big minutes (36) scoring 17 points with nine assists and six rebounds. T.J. Ford had six points and 13 assists for Toronto, in a game that featured 20 turnovers by the Cavs and 28 fouls by the Raptors. The Raps also picked up 31 assists.


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