Sam staying with Dixon

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Juan Dixon's minutes and numbers have gone done down in the past four games, but that does not mean head coach Sam Mitchell is giving up on his new, backup point guard.

Dixon, a natural shooting guard, has been asked to fill in with T.J. Ford out indefinitely with back and arm problems.

But in the past two games, Dixon has played less than 10 minutes. In Toronto's 101-85 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, the former Maryland star played only eight minutes 23 seconds in backing up starter Jose Calderon, and managed no points and no assists, although he did pull in two boards.

But that doesn't mean the Dixon experiment at point guard is over. Mitchell said that he is committed to working with Dixon on becoming a decent backup point guard.

"We have to continue to develop Juan. I just can't yank the rug from under Juan, because he has been pretty steady and I felt like (Friday) night if we could have caught more of the passes he made, which were good passes, if we score instead of those turning into turnovers and points for them, then it's a whole different ball game," the coach said. "I'm not displeased with Juan's development. You have to understand, we're taking a guy who has been a two-guard, with a scorer's mentality, and now we're asking him to play a completely different role."

Ford, who is back in Toronto for treatment, has spent a lot of time advising Dixon. The two conferred for a good hour following practice yesterday.

"I think now it's a matter of us building his confidence, because it's a confidence thing at that position. We just have try to give him a better understanding of it," Ford said.

As long as Mitchell has Dixon backing up Calderon, he has not played Darrick Martin, who started the season as the third point guard. Martin hasn't played since Dec. 19 in Portland.


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