Second helpings

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

The last time Jamario Moon shared a court with the Philadelphia 76ers his life changed.

He's not expecting anything similar in the life-changing spectrum tonight when the Sixers pay a return visit to Toronto, but Moon will never forget that first matchup back on Nov. 9 at the Wachovia Center.

That was the night he scored his first NBA regular-season points and soon afterwards went from an end-of-the-bench afterthought to an every day starter.

The starting role came the following night in Chicago when he shut down Luol Deng in another road win for the Raps. Since that performance, Moon has started the past 27 games and has become as integral to the team's success as any Raptor, with maybe the exception of Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon.

"I'll never forget two teams in the NBA," Moon said. "Philadelphia and Chicago. Philadelphia is where I scored my first bucket and Chicago was where I got my first start, so I will always remember those two teams."

READY FOR EVERYONE

But seeing the Sixers for the first time since, Moon says, does not make it special.

"Thirty-four games into the schedule you have to be ready for everyone," Moon said. "I'll never forget (Philly and Chicago) but you have to let it go."

Moon laughed when a reporter asked if he considered himself a grizzled veteran now with 28 starts under his belt, "You can say that if you want," Moon said laughing, but he is feeling more and more comfortable with each passing game.

What hasn't changed is the importance of that first rule Moon learned. "Always listen to Sam," Moon says without hesitation. "If I do that everything else will be okay. I don't try to do anything otherwise," he said.

Moon's focus remains defence and rebounding, the two things that got him in the lineup in the first place, but now there are some limited offensive expectations as well.

"Sam wants me to take shots, but take good shots," Moon said. "He wants me stepping inside the three-point line and taking those 15 and 17 footers. As long as they are good shots, he won't complain."

But Mitchell also wants Moon to use his athleticism to get to the hoop for easy baskets and free-throw attempts.

"He wants that to be everyone's first option," Moon said.

Moon's development continues to be a work in progress. While his defence has been steady for the most part, there have been lapses which have landed Moon on the bench.

"(Coach) just wants you to work hard and if he doesn't think you're working hard, he'll sit you down or he'll come and talk to you and let you know so you can pick yourself up," Moon said.


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