Raptors nail Araujo to bench

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

The Brazilian Beast has been caged, yet again. Rookie Rafael Araujo, a native of Curbita, Brazil, was given the starting centre job on Dec.28 and started 37 consecutive games at the No. 5 spot for the Raptors before being replaced by veteran Loren Woods last week. Woods, however, sprained his left shoulder in practice on Thursday and was placed on the injured list yesterday.

But in a surprise move last night, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell decided not to re-insert Araujo as the starting centre and instead gave the job to little-used Aaron Williams -- on the surface at least, an indication that Araujo's stock has dropped in the eyes of front office and coaching staff.

Mitchell gave Araujo, the eighth pick overall in last year's draft, every chance to prove himself this season but the former Brigham Young star has not been up to the task. In 48 games, Araujo has averaged 12. minutes, 3.3 points and 3.4 rebounds, not exactly numbers to write home about.

Aaron Williams was part of the Vince Carter deal on Dec. 17 and has played little in Toronto. With Woods being placed on the injured list, the Raptors activated forward Eric Williams, who also came over in the Carter trade.

Eric Williams missed the March 2 game at San Antonio with a right calf strain, was placed on the injured list March 4 and has missed the past 11 contests due to the injury.

The Raptors have had few injuries to worry about this season, but that has changed recently. Not only is Woods out, both Chris Bosh and Donyell Marshall are playing with sore backs. Marshall, in fact, said yesterday that he probably would not be playing if the Raptors weren't still in the playoff hunt.

"If we were out of the playoffs, then I might take a day off," he said yesterday.

Bosh missed his first game of the season on March 18 in Detroit after suffering a bruised lower back.

"Chris assures me he feels fine," Mitchell said.

"And I keep telling that he has to be aggressive because if he doesn't play well, it puts a strain on everybody else. It puts a strain on Rafer (Alston) and Jalen (Rose) to pick up the scoring slack."


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