Eric not-so-great of late

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

If Eric Williams truly is a defensive force, he might want to start showcasing that aspect of his game on a regular basis.

The Raptors starting forward, who came here in the Vince Carter trade along with no-show Alonzo Mourning, little-used Aaron Williams and two first-round picks, is struggling at both ends of the floor these days.

One of his worst outings came Wednesday night when Eric Williams had two points, three fouls and zero rebounds in 14 minutes during a 111-96 loss against the Miami Heat.

Defensively, he struggled to contain the Heat's Eddie Jones, who was 8-for-11 for 23 points.

"Sometimes guys struggle a bit," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said yesterday, not referring to Williams by name, but making the comments after being asked a question about the veteran.

"You've got 82 games. It's impossible somebody is going to play at their very best every night."

Still, Mitchell hasn't hinted he is ready to shake up his starting lineup. He seems to think Williams, who was second on the New Jersey Nets with 12.6 points per game before the trade last month, can elevate his game, maybe even tonight in Charlotte against the expansion Bobcats.

ADJUSTING

Williams, who exited the gym quickly after practice yesterday, was inserted into the starting lineup to improve team defence.

"I'm sure it's still an adjustment for him," Mitchell said. "A new environment, being away from his family, a lot of those things."

While nobody is expecting Williams to be a scoring leader for the Raptors, he is averaging just 5.8 points in 17 games with Toronto. Williams' rebounding numbers -- 2.8 per game in Toronto as compared to 4.5 in New Jersey -- are also down, though he's playing about 13 fewer minutes per night.

"He has been playing fine," Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. "He's probably a little banged up as the season is going on, but he's been helping us a lot, just (with) his defensive presence and leadership ... Some players have bad stretches sometimes. This might be a bad two or three games for him."

Raptors point guard Rafer Alston also has good things to say about Williams.

"He's aggressive out there, he's talking to us and helping us with rotations, especially big guys like Rafael (Araujo) and Chris," Alston said. "He's helping them understand when they're coming out of a double team where they should go and who is the next guy to rotate. He brings professionalism to our team and a great defensive disposition."


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