Toronto coach Sam Mitchell intends to sort out his ongoing feud with disgruntled guard Rafer Alston before the Raptors host the Milwaukee Bucks. He certainly didn’t have a chance to do it after his team’s latest road loss.
Alston, who has been at odds with the first-year coach throughout the season, stormed out of Gund Arena on Tuesday night after being benched by Mitchell with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter.
The Raptors lost to the Cavaliers 104-91, dropping to 4-21 on the road this season, and Mitchell did his best to quell the controversy surrounding himself and Alston.
“It’s a basketball thing that Rafer and I have to sort out,” said Mitchell. “Rafer is determined in his way and I’m determined in my way.
“He is struggling with some basketball things and I wasn’t planning on playing him in the second half. I expect him to play tomorrow and expect him to be a starter.”
Mitchell suspended Alston two games for storming out of a practice last month. When the Raptors played in Cleveland on Dec. 4, Alston was held out of the starting lineup after getting a critical technical foul in a two-point loss in Boston the previous night, then saying he would quit the NBA.
Alston came back to play 37 minutes and scored a team-high 20 points in a 105-97 loss that night.
After the latest incident, Raptors general manager Rob Babcock spoke up for Alston, who signed a six-year, $30 million contract last summer.
“Rafer didn’t do anything to warrant a suspension at all,” Babcock said. “I don’t think Rafer is letting the team down at all. They (Mitchell and Alston) have to work on their relationship.”
Things aren’t nearly as controversial in Milwaukee as the Bucks are coming off one of their best efforts of the season. Mike James scored a career-high 28 points, including eight 3-pointers, to lead Milwaukee to a 121-97 victory over Boston on Tuesday night.
The Bucks scored 78 points in the first half—their most in any half in 18 years and the second-highest total in the NBA this season. The 121 points were also a season high.
“Once you get it going, it seems like the basket is the size of a garbage can,” said forward Joe Smith, one of five Bucks to score in double figures.
Michael Redd, left off the All-Star team despite averaging 22.2 points per game, had 17 for the Bucks, who outscored Boston 42-15 in the second quarter.
“It was probably our best offensive quarter of the year,” Bucks coach Terry Porter said. “It’s a lot of fun when you play that way.”