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Dr. J. Naismith 02-10-2008 10:51 AM

Today in Raptorland - 2/10/08

Focus the key as all-star break looms


If there is a break for the Raptors, it's that Minnesota doesn't have the dominant wing player that's given Toronto fits this year. Al Jefferson, the Minnesota centre Mitchell referred to as "a beast" yesterday, is the key cog in the offence.

"Teams go like this," said Mitchell, making the universal sign for a roller-coaster ride with his hand. "And any time you're playing at home, you play a little bit harder.

"The thing about a post guy is if your traps are good, you can go get the ball out of his hands. The thing about a guy on the perimeter is, when he faces you up, the defence is back on its heels and when he penetrates, he sucks the defence in and you open yourself up to offensive rebounds and draw and kicks."

Major week starts in Minny


"We want to finish strong. These (last three games before the break) are important because we're getting to that point where the season is short now. You're getting down to where you have 30-plus games left to go. After the all-star break you have a two-month season."

Mitchell says the only team in the East that really is beyond making a playoff charge is the Miami Heat.

"If you have 18 or 19 wins you are still in it for the seventh and eighth spots," he said. "If you have more wins -- we have 26 wins -- you don't want to be looking behind you. You want to keep playing well. Our whole thing is just worry about ourselves and not worry about anything else. Just go out and play."
Consistency needed


Normally, a practice before a set of back-to-back games is kept to the barest minimum, but head coach Sam Mitchell had his players on the run yesterday.

"We know what our mistakes were," Calderon said. "We know what we have to do better but we had some work to do because the night before was not very good."

Bulked up Ford provides Raptors nice surprise


"I think he forgot to do the maintenance work to keep his body up," Lucas told the Toronto Sun. "He looked more like one of those rappers, Snoop Dogg. His muscle tone had left because he hadn't done the work."

Field of Dream: Olajuwon buys ranchland


Indeed, the property just south of the intersection of FM 1489 and Interstate 10 is a world apart from Olajuwon's typical real estate investments, which have included historic office buildings, abandoned retail centers and vacant downtown land.

Gameday: Wolves vs. Toronto


Only seven teams have shot .400 or better for the season from behind the three-point arc since the shot was introduced during the 1979-80 season. The Raptors -- 370-for-877, 42.5 percent -- are on pace for the second-best percentage in history, behind Charlotte's 42.8 percent in 1995-96. ... No word yet whether the Wolves have a one-minute pregame exemption for a tribute to former Timberwolf Sam Mitchell, the Raptors' head coach.

Daily Notes for Sunday


Rashad McCants has been remarkably consistent lately, scoring in double figures in 12 of his past 15 games and shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor over that stretch. He could be ripe for a breakout game against Toronto on Sunday because the Raptors have trouble with scoring guards and let teams shoot 37 percent from the 3-point line this season.

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