Moon walks into starting role

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Three games into his NBA career, Jamario Moon is a starter.

For the second time in the past three days, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell adjusted his starting lineup, inserting Moon in place of Jason Kapono at the small forward position.

Last night's matchup is similar to what Moon saw in Philadelphia with a smaller, athletic Bulls lineup providing the opposition. Whether this is a one-time deal, only Mitchell knows. The move comes on the heels of another switch that saw Andrea Bargnani coming off the bench Friday and Rasho Nesterovic starting at centre.

As coming-out parties go, Moon's performance Friday in Philadelphia had a little bit of everything.

He scored when the opportunities presented themselves, he rebounded at both ends of the court, and he played solid defence using his natural athletic abilities, such as when he got between Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala and timed his leap perfectly to snag a lob pass that Iguodala was getting ready to hammer home.

But in the grand scheme of things, perhaps the most important aspect of Moon's game on Friday was his acceptance of the role he needs to play in order to stay on the court.

Moon is a long, rangy athletic high flyer, all attributes that scream out offensive star. But at this stage in his development (and even at 27 he still is developing), Moon's job primarily is to rebound and defend and he's fine with that.

"If that's what (Mitchell) tells me, that's what I do," Moon said. "Until he tells me otherwise, I'm going to stick to what he said. Throughout the year, if that's the only thing he tells me to do, that's the only thing I'll do."

Friday's appearance was just the second of the season for Moon, but it stood in stark contrast to his NBA debut in Milwaukee, when he hoisted a few ill-advised shots that he never should have considered taking. It wasn't a huge sample size -- he took only three shots in his 14 minutes in that initial game -- but they stood out. Mitchell noticed

This was Mitchell's assessment of his play on Friday. "He played well," Mitchell said. "He was rebounding. He made some timely shots. He got a key block and steal. He wasn't doing anything to hurt us."

Moon took eight shots in his 22-plus minutes on the floor Friday and made good on four of them. The eight shots represented the fourth-most of any Raptor and not one would you consider forced.


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