Colangelo sees positives

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

MIAMI -- Bryan Colangelo is a glass half-full kind of guy.

As the Raptors limp to the finish line of the 2005-06 season, the new general manager maintains his team has a few good things going.

Colangelo's support for coach Sam Mitchell does not seem to have wavered during the club's eight-game losing streak, thanks in large part to the team's competitiveness without star player Chris Bosh. The Raptors, who have a knack for making gaffes at critical times, have lost by double digits just once during the eight-game skid.

"Despite losing, the team is playing hard and going out every night and fighting," Colangelo said yesterday from Toronto after the team practised in Miami in preparation for a game against the Heat tonight. "The coaching staff is doing a good job under some difficult (circumstances)."

Thankfully, Colangelo is not about to say it has been an "enjoyable season," the exact words out of predecessor Rob Babcock's mouth at the end of last season. Indeed, Colangelo is the first to admit the Raptors need to make big strides during the off-season.

What he hopes remains constant, even with a bit of a roster overhaul, is the team's energy level and mindset. Colangelo sees no evidence the players have thrown in the towel at a time when many of their counterparts might do just that.

"That's one of the traits you have to respect about this group," Colangelo said. "The coaches have something to do with that. They're getting them ready, getting them prepared and helping them stay mentally in the season. They are not going down easy."

So while the Raptors continue to make stupid mistakes and blow games in crunch time, Colangelo still believes he has reason to bottle up a little optimism. He has money to spend, a high draft pick that could be trade bait and now has a better idea of what he needs to surround the centrepiece -- Bosh.

"In our business, you're always looking at people without perfect-world circumstances," Colangelo said. "Things aren't going to work out favourably all the time. We're looking at how hard they are working, the effort they are putting forth and how much they have developed."

The Raptors have five games remaining this season, beginning with a Florida doubleheader that wraps up in Orlando against the Magic tomorrow night.

"When we find a way to win, I think we're going to be a dangerous team," Raptors swingman Morris Peterson said. "Finishing out the season strong, trying to get better in the off-season and being ready for next year (are the primary goals). Once we turn that corner, I think we're going to be all right. We've played every team in the NBA and with most of the teams, we've been able to play with them. But down the stretch, we end up making a mistake or doing something that costs us the game. If we can clear that hurdle, I think we can play with anybody."


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