Woods stays focused

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Raptors centre Loren Woods is a big man on the court and when it comes to being a team player.

Nobody has taken as big a hit as Woods in terms of having his playing minutes cut recently.

In the past six games, Woods has gone from being the club's regular starter at the five spot to a guy who hardly sees the court. In four of the past six games, head coach Sam Mitchell has opted not to play the first-year Raptor. In Sunday's win over the Golden State Warriors at the Air Canada Centre, Woods played all of three minutes. But you won't catch the 7-foot-2 centre complaining, or getting down about the situation.

"It's out of my control," said Woods, who has been inconsistent in terms of rebounding this season. "The only thing I can control is to continue to work hard and hope that the team wins. I just have to respect the coach's decision not to play me.

"Right now, he's just looking for five guys who play well together. I don't think it's because of my talent or my intensity, because I always play hard," he added of his cut in minutes.

Woods has no ill-will for rookie centre Rafael Araujo, who has started in his place.

"You drive yourself crazy if you try to figure out everything that goes on with you in this league," he said. "But as far as Hoffa (Araujo) is concerned, he is playing well and that's good for us because we're winning."

HIGH PRAISE

Mitchell had good words for forward Eric Williams, one of the guys the Raptors acquired in the Vince Carter deal last month.

Williams' scoring average is down since moving over from New Jersey (he is averaging 8.3 points per game in Toronto, about three less than with the Nets), but it's what he does defensively and his leadership that has Mitchell excited.

"What Eric does doesn't necessarily show up on the stats sheet. You hear him out there talking," Mitchell said, adding that Williams took it upon himself to hand out some key advice to the Raptors' frontcourt against Golden State on Sunday, a big 109-87 Toronto victory.

Advice, Mitchell said, that worked.

"They were hurting us early in the game with the pick and roll and we kind of shut that down in the third quarter when we made our run," he said.


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