Raps not gonna tank it

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

Rob Babcock won't complain if his team's odds improve in the NBA draft lottery, but the Raptors general manager isn't prepared to tank games to make that happen.

While some people might think the Raptors (30-43) would be better off losing as many of their final nine games as possible to increase their chances of scoring a high pick in the lottery May 24, the team's general manager said he is not thinking that way.

"To me you can't do that," Babcock said yesterday as his players and coaches tried to enjoy a day off practice. "If I'm playing my brother in a game of ping-pong, I'm going to give it my all."

Maybe Babcock and his brother, Pete, the Raptors director of NBA player personnel, have had some intense table tennis duels.

"That's the way you play sports," Rob Babcock said. "That's my philosophy and we're trying to instill that in everybody here. Every time you step across that line, you play to win."

They may be playing to win, but the Raptors probably won't be good enough to win many of their remaining games, anyway. Especially after Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said Sunday, in the wake of a 113-103 loss against the Detroit Pistons, he will give his younger players more time down the stretch.

Mind you, those guys didn't do too badly Sunday. With an awkward lineup of Rafael Araujo, Pape Sow, Morris Peterson, Matt Bonner and Milt Palacio in the game, the Raptors cut a 17-point lead to six in the final minute.

"Sam recognized we were not going to win the game and he let the young guys finish the game, which was good," Babcock said. "The young guys went out for some minutes and they did well."

SOW'S SEASON HIGH

The little-used Sow, who is not under contract for next season, tied a season-high with 13 minutes. While the rookie didn't light up the scoresheet, he did some good things on defence.

"The reason I drafted Pape (in the second round) is because of his upside and what he can be," Babcock said.

Overall, Babcock seems pleased with the development of his younger players.

"I've always been very encouraged by the young guys," he said. "They've got a great attitude about the game, they love to play and they are winners. They really, really support each other and there is a nice bond between them."

The Raptors play host to the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night.


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