'My bad' is all good

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

Instead of sulking, Mike James stepped up and took responsibility.

Instead of lingering in the restricted area of the Raptors dressing room, the point guard faced the music right away.

It was James' mistake -- leaving Damon Jones wide open for a buzzer-beating three-point basket -- that allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to climb off the mat and beat the Raptors 98-97 Wednesday night. But in the aftermath of that awful miscue, James wasn't in a woe-is-me mood.

James was the first player out of the showers and stepped in front of the cameras -- before he even got dressed -- to accept full blame for the loss.

Beside pleasing reporters facing a tight deadline, James had to earn at least a few points from people in the organization for his actions.

"I think Mike is a terrific young man," new Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said in a telephone interview yesterday. "When you look at the situation, it should have never been that close in the first place. I really wouldn't put the loss on his shoulders."

But James didn't feel the same way. When watching the replay of the game-winning play yesterday, it clearly pained him to take another look at what transpired. He said he was trying to draw the charge when he left Jones and came out to help on LeBron James, but the Cavs star found the open man and the only shot that could beat the Raptors at that moment found nothing but net.

Colangelo, while impressed with James' apology to his teammates, doesn't feel the free-agent-to-be was directly responsible for the loss. Despite the poor play, James seems to be in Colangelo's good books.

"Without question, Mike is someone we look at as a nice piece moving forward," Colangelo said.

Colangelo said his primary focus during the final 21 games of the season will be to take a hard look at the Raptors' young talent. He'll find out what guys like Pape Sow, Joey Graham and maybe even Rafael Araujo can do.

But he also will have a close eye on the NCAA tournament, which begins next week. The Raptors could be in line for a top-five pick in the draft, which wasn't in store for Colangelo in Phoenix with the Suns.

"There are fewer people you have to look at," Colangelo said. "When you're in the mid-teens or 20s, you have to prepare for all kinds of things. When you're in the top five, six, seven or eight, there is a defined group you can zero in on."

The Raptors play host to the Denver Nuggets tonight.


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