Sam's centres come up small

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Maybe big Maple Leafs centre Nik Antropov can play basketball.

After all, the Leafs have more than a few decent centres and Antropov hasn't exactly stood out on the ice when he has played thus far this season.

The Raptors, on the other hand, desperately are in need of a capable centre, a problem for far too long.

Starting centre Loren Woods and backup Rafael Araujo did next to nothing once again last night as the Raptors lost 105-93 against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Air Canada Centre.

The Raptors' best centre was undersized 6-foot-9 Aaron Williams, a little-used 34-year-old who has played in two NBA championships with the New Jersey Nets.

He certainly isn't Shaquille O'Neal, but Williams was far more dependable than his counterparts last night.

"We just have to continue to back up these guys and try to encourage them," said Raptors forward Chris Bosh, whose life would be so much easier if he had a centre to help him under the basket.

"They're playing hard, but we've just got to get them to play hard and knock somebody over and make a statement in the paint."

At least Araujo did that, taking LeBron James out with a hard foul in the second quarter.

But coach Sam Mitchell has the Brazilian on a short leash for a reason. Araujo finished with two points, one rebound and one foul in six minutes.

Woods, who was out of place defensively at times, had four rebounds and two fouls and missed all four of his shots in 16 minutes.

Williams, who popped two dislocated fingers back into place Saturday in Detroit, played 11 minutes and hit two of his three shots for five points.

"Naturally, (I'm a power forward)," Williams said. "But it's no problem at all. I've been doing it for years. I don't care (where he plays). I just want to get a win. Being undersized, it's always a challenge, but that's why I work out hard in the weight room in the off-season."

Mitchell, frustrated with his defence, made a point of praising Williams.

"Aaron Williams picked up a charge because he just basically stood where he's supposed to stand and the guy ran over him," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he might make some lineup changes after the game.

Based on last night, you have to think Williams will get a bit more playing time in the near future.


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