James guns, but Raps fall

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike James might want to consider changing his name to Jack.

Because that's what he does. He jacks it up.

Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not.

Last night, James was a one-man wrecking crew for the Raptors, going 13-for-26 from the floor, for 34 points. He also picked up 11 rebounds and eight assists, along with six turnovers, narrowly missing his first career triple-double.

And while those numbers were impressive, they weren't enough as the Raptors fell 111-103 to the Indiana Pacers at the Conseco Fieldhouse to drop to 26-49, the club's sixth loss in a row.

Indiana, fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, improved to 36-38.

The Raptors trailed the entire game and a primary reason for that was they allowed Indiana to get to the free-throw line 45 times, a problem the Raptors have experienced often in recent games.

Toronto committed 33 fouls in the game, compared to 19 for Indiana. The Pacers outscored the Raptors from the charity stripe, 38-18.

The Boston Celtics took 53 free throws against the Raps on Tuesday night -- an ugly pattern for head coach Sam Mitchell.

"You just can't win," Mitchell said, of his club's foul problems. "We get more field goals, we hang in there on the boards ... but you just can't give up 98 free throws in two games."

The Raps lost starting shooting guard Morris Peterson with 2:31 in the fourth quarter when he picked up his sixth foul, and that certainly did not help their cause.

Stephen Jackson and Peja Stojakovic each had 25 points for the Pacers.

James has been criticized for shooting too much, but there's no questioning the fact that his numbers will attract plenty of interest around the NBA after he declares himself a free agent this summer.

Win or lose, James has vowed to carry the Raptors on his shoulders as the regular season ticks toward the finish line.

After last night's game, Toronto has seven remaining. James admitted that he was aware that he was only two assists away from the triple-double as the clock ticked down.

"I was still trying to make plays, but in order to get an assist, the person has to make the shot," he said. "Some nights they're going to hit them, some nights they're not. You live and die with it."

Toronto trailed by as much as 15 , but clawed their way back into the game, managing to get to within one with about seven minutes left (95-94) when Matt Bonner hit a five-foot jump shot.

Rookie forward Charlie Villanueva also had a double-double for Toronto, with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Bonner, who posted the first two double-doubles of his career in the past two weeks, was lost for most of the first half, after picking up three fouls in two minutes in the first quarter.

But he came on like gangbusters in the second, going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc with six boards.

Forward Eric Williams left the game early clutching his left side.

The Raptors will meet the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets tomorrow night, the first time they have played a game in Oklahoma City.

REPORT CARD

B+ Offence: The Raptors, and the Pacers for that matter, didn't pass the ball very much. Indiana had 21 assists, to Toronto's 19. Toronto shot 41% from the field, and from beyond the arc.

C Defence: The Raptors kept the Pacers to 40% from the field and outrebounded Indiana 52-46. Turnovers were a problem. Toronto had 14, twice that of Indiana.


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