Solomon set to prove worth

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

The Raptors will be relying on the judgement of 'King' Solomon this season.

Not on his throne, but off the bench and not to lay down the law as much as pump up the pace on court by finding the team's big men, pulling down some rebounds and multi-tasking in general.

As the backup to point guard Jose Calderon, Solomon will be key to maintaining the flow when the Spaniard takes a breather from assisting Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal in the paint.

After a five-year hiatus playing in Europe, Solomon has returned to the NBA, nailing a game-high 17 points on Tuesday in Cleveland during a long night's dance with the Cavs' fired-up Mo Williams.

He then added 12 points in 21 minutes on Wednesday against the New York Knicks, sinking the whole trio of his three-point attempts and whittling down the six turnovers he committed in Cleveland, four in the first half, to just three against New York.

"Jose can fight and shoot and that's what we have to get Will to do," coach Sam Mitchell said, adding that he likes the 30-year-old Solomon's quickness and athleticism.

At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Solomon is referred to as a tweener, not a true point guard or shooting guard, but he has the body span to defend his position. A second-round pick of the Vancouver Grizzlies in 2001 right before they moved to Memphis, he played just one NBA season before embarking on a nomadic career through Greece, Israel and Turkey.

"I'm just trying to fit in, just trying to give the team energy," the Hartford, Conn., native said after Wednesday's game. "It's no different when you walk up a flight of stairs. You take it one step at a time.

"Playing against Cleveland, playing against a Knicks team that likes to play fast, it's all helpful. I'm just trying to find that comfort level.

"Coach Mitchell is a player's coach and he's always encouraging me. The Raptors are a playoff team, a good team, and I just want to do my part in helping them."

Solomon and rookie Croatian guard Roko Ukic both looked good against the Knicks when Calderon and Anthony Parker sat, with Ukic going 3-for-3 from the floor.

Mitchell gave his players yesterday off after the back-to-back exhibition wins.

MORE WORK FOR O'NEAL

Those anxious to see more of Raptors' new big man Jermaine O'Neal should get their wish on Sunday.

"As games go on, he'll get more time," said coach Sam Mitchell, who spoke of playing O'Neal upwards of 28 to 29 minutes Sunday.

In both exhibition wins so far, Mitchell has played O'Neal less than 20 minutes, bringing along his conditioning very slowly.

HOME SWEET HOME

If the Maple Leafs could win regular-season home games in October as the Raptors do in exhibition play, they'd be playoff bound.

Wednesday's game marked 11 straight pre-season triumphs for the Raptors at the ACC going back to 2006. They've also won six pre-season games in a row since last October.


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