Raptors miss T.J.

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

Raptors all-star forward Chris Bosh was saying yesterday how much the team misses point guard T.J. Ford, on the court and off.

"You're always going to miss someone like T.J. He's just a threat offensively and defensively because he's so quick and he can get in the passing lane and everything," Bosh said following the team's practice at the Air Canada Centre. "He's definitely missed. He's a locker room personality and not to have him on the road, you really notice it."

Bosh and his teammates better get used to Ford being away for a little while longer. While the diminutive guard, who has been out action since suffering another arm stinger on Dec.11 in Atlanta, was spotted at the ACC yesterday, general manager Bryan Colangelo confirmed that the club plans to pursue other professional opinions on the state of Ford's injury. The Houston native suffers from a condition known as spinal stenosis, which sometimes results in a loss of feeling in his arms when he collides with something, as was the case on Dec. 11.

Ford already has consulted with a pair of specialists in the U.S., Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles and Dr. Patrick O'Leary in New York, and Colangelo said that they plan to seek even more help, and get more opinions, although he couldn't say yet as to when and from whom.

And so, the Raptors will continue to lean on Jose Calderon to carry the load at the point guard position, and the Spanish national team star certainly has stepped up. Calderon is on pace to become the 11th NBA player since 1989 to post an assist-per-turnover ratio over 5.00. He currently leads the NBA with a 6.05 assist-per-turnover ratio (260 assists, 43 turnovers).

The Raptors recently returned from a seven-game road swing, broken up in two legs, and look at a much easier month in terms of the schedule -- eight home games (starting with tomorrow night against the Detroit Pistons) in January, as opposed to only five on the road, with no back-to-back road games.

Mitchell said his club is certainly not going to take any of the games at the ACC for granted.

The Raptors are 8-6 at home this season and 9-9 away. Last season, they finished 19 games above .500 at home and seven below the even mark on the road.

"Everybody thinks because you're at home, you're supposed to win," Mitchell said. "And that's just not the case. You still have to play well, you still have to out-work a team. The fans don't seem to realize, you're not going to come out and be up 25-10 every game at home."

Mitchell said young players in particular often feel more pressure at home, and the Raptors do have a fairly young team.

"Young players miss a couple of shots and make a couple of mistakes, and if the fans kind of get down on them, then they get down on themselves," he said. "What the fans need to understand is, these guys out there are doing the best they can do, and you're not going to play great every minute you're on the court."

Mitchell is hoping, however, that his team is able to go on a major role. The longest win streak of the year for the 17-15 Toronto squad was four games.

"We really haven't got on a roll yet," Mitchell said. "We'll win one or two. Then we'll lose one or two. We just haven't put together that string of wins yet. But we still feel like it's coming. Our players are getting better."


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