Raptors looking good

Andrea Bargnani drives by Washington's Andray Blatche during the first quarter of an NBA pre-season...

Andrea Bargnani drives by Washington's Andray Blatche during the first quarter of an NBA pre-season game. (Sun Media/Alex Urosevic)

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

If there is a danger in these final few pre-season games, it's that the Raptors go into the season with inflated opinions of themselves.

For the third game in a row, the visitors were a team expected to be among the best in the East and for the third straight game the Raptors abused their foes.

This time around it was the Washington Wizards and before anyone gets too carried away, yes, they were without their offensive catalyst in Gilbert Arenas, who had surgery on his left knee at the end of last season and this past week had fluid drained.

But even without Agent Zero, the Wizards still had Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler from their Big Three healthy and willing. The Raptors built an 11-point lead by the end of the first quarter, increased it to 25 by the half and coasted to a 98-64 win.

Head coach Sam Mitchell's starting five -- and it's going to be a shock if Jason Kapono isn't officially named to that unit by Wednesday night's season opener -- was hitting on all cylinders.

Even Mitchell, whose job is probably tougher following three lopsided wins to end the pre-season, couldn't find much to complain about.

"I'm pleased with our rebounding effort, our defence, we're in a help position, we're talking better and on the offence we are just moving the basketball," Mitchell said. "We are still missing some easy shots, but I think the way T.J. (Ford) and Jose (Calderon) are running the team, the last three basketball games have been flawless. You can't ask for your point guards to play any better."

Combined, Ford and Calderon played 41 minutes last night, recording a total of 11 assists and not a single turnover. They scored just 13 points, nine by Calderon, but the Raptors do not need their point guards' offence to be successful.

Mitchell said both his point guards are being asked to become better students of the game through a lot of video and it has paid dividends.

In the past three games, they have combined for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 30-7.

In short, they're taking care of the ball and getting it to the right people.

Starting power forward Chris Bosh played 17 minutes to go with his 15 on Thursday and showed no signs of any rust following a rather lengthy layoff to allow his sore left knee to heal.

Bosh was 4-for-5 from the the field for eight points, most of them from 16 feet and out.

After the game, he echoed his coach's sentiments with regards to the Raps' level of preparedness.

"I think right now we're pretty good," Bosh said.

"I think we can be satisfied where we are. I think we're playing good defence. We're not winning and giving up a bunch of layups and letting teams score 100-plus points.

"We're holding teams under 40% and we're just rolling right now. We have to carry that into that regular season."

That begins Wednesday with the Philadelphia 76ers at the ACC to tip off the season.


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