Shaq quip still stings

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Chris Bosh doesn't plan on going fist city with Shaquille O'Neal tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre when the Raptors open up the regular season against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But one gets the impression that he is still somewhat miffed by O'Neal's comments last season, when he described the good-natured Raptors forward as "the RuPaul of big men." O'Neal added that he was going to make Bosh quit when his plays him next (tomorrow). "It's what I do," Shaq said.

But while Bosh brushed aside suggestions that O'Neal's words have increased his motivation, there still obviously is some resentment lingering.

"I don't care. I really don't care. Everybody can talk back and forth all day. But at the end of the day, it's what happens on the court," Bosh said. "But I've never quit ever in my life."

"It was a year ago and it's a cancelled cheque," added coach Jay Triano, when reminded of O'Neal's comments. "It really has no value. Sometimes people use that for motivation and hopefully Chris did."

While with the Phoenix Suns, O'Neal scored 45 points last Feb. 27 in a 133-113 laugher over the Raptors. And while Triano was asked what they planned to do to slow the big man down tomorrow, he turned the equation around.

"We have the benefit of being able to put Andrea (Bargnani) on those (big) guys to guard them and they have to figure out who's going to guard CB," Triano said. "Bosh can step out and take those bigger guys away from the basket and use his quickness. And if they guard Andrea, those guys are going to be standing out by the three-point line. We have to use our strengths and that's our ability to stretch defences."

Sick bay

The Raptors have suffered another setback in the injury department.

Newcomer Sonny Weems, who has played well in eight pre-season games (two starts), averaging 8.5 points (fourth-best on the team) while shooting 51% from the field, dove for a ball at practice on Sunday and hurt his left foot. He went to see a foot specialist yesterday and may miss the regular-season opener, as will forward Reggie Evans, who is still using crutches because of a sprained left foot.

Rookie to start

It's all but certain that rookie DeMar DeRozan will start tomorrow at the shooting guard spot, marking only the third time in team history a rookie started in the opener (Damon Stoudamire in 1995 and Joey Graham in 2005). Triano said while DeRozan deserves the start, he wasn't pushed that much in training camp because of all the team's injuries.

"The one thing I always said, I don't want him to have this position by default. (But) he's played better than anybody else to warrant the spot. So I don't take anything away from him. It's not like by default. He has done a great job, he has worked hard everyday, he is very coachable. And I think he is getting better every day," Triano said.


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