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Tip-In: "Bucked" In OT Again

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If there were any doubters left as to whether Charlie Villanueva has the offensive skills to be a star in the NBA, I don't think we'll be hearing from them anytime soon.

What's that Steven A. Smith? You still there Jay Bilas?

CV Smooth dropped a career high 48 points yesterday afternoon on the Milwaukee Bucks going 20 of 32 from the field (including making SIX three-pointers) and grabbing nine rebounds, dishing three assists and thieving the ball once for good measure. Unfortunately Villanueva's momentous performance wasn't enough as Toronto fell in overtime to the Bucks 125-116.

Leading the way for Milwaukee was Michael Redd whose 35 points topped all Milwaukee players but the Bucks got huge contributions from bench players Dan Gadzuric, (17 points, nine rebounds) Joe Smith, (19 points - 11 off of free throws) Toni Kukoc (nine points, seven assists and six rebounds) and Charlie Bell as well. Bell did a great job running the team in the absence of the injured TJ Ford and Mo Williams. Some experts have lately been suggesting that Bell or Williams play the role of starter for the Bucks with Ford coming off the bench as a "switch tempo" type and with the way Bell played tonight, it looks hard to argue with this point as Bell had a very effective 18 points and 11 assists in the win.

Lost in the stats discussion is that Chris Bosh played only seven minutes after colliding with Pape Sow during an attempt to snare a loose ball. X-Rays on his finger came back negative and he is currently listed as having "a mild sprain." However with Bosh unable to continue playing after the incident the Raptors were outmanned inside and Milwaukee was able to score at will in close shooting 55 per cent for the game while grabbing key rebounds when it counted. Pape Sow did his best to hold the fort but his foul prone ways have yet to be stemmed and he eventually picked up his sixth leading to only 28 minutes of playing time. While in the game Sow was his usual scrappy self but Milwaukee's "bigs" were just too much. Eric Williams, Rafael Araujo and Matt Bonner (who was the recipient of a NASTY Gadzuric poster slam) fared no better and Toronto's lack of size and athleticism in the middle was painfully obvious without CB4. To illustrate this point, the Bucks marched to the foul line an incredible 45 times while Toronto shot only 17 free throws all game.

In fact, considering that Toronto let the Bucks shoot such a high percentage and take so many foul shots (they converted 35 of them), it's a wonder they even got to overtime. Toronto's nine three's helped but really it was Charlie V who almost single-handedly willed them into OT as Mike James was only five for 16 on the afternoon. Villanueva scored using an impressive array of jump-shots, post moves, spins and outside bombs. While it's obvious he still needs work defensively guarding the "small-forward" spot, this has to be a huge confidence boost for both he and the Raptors.

As we've articulated time and time again, when this club gets big offensive contributions from Bosh, James and Peterson or someone else, (aka three players) it's tough to stop them. With the showcase that CV Smooth put on, Sam Mitchell now has to start incorporating him more into the offence and Mike James now has to realize this or be told to!

Can't get Bosh the ball in the right box? - swing it to the left side and try Charlie! Bosh is being double teamed down low? Get Mr. CV open off a screen and let him create a bit. And if James picks neither and is looking for his own shot too much...maybe Mitchell should just lose it like he did today.

Oh yes...with Toronto headed towards another discouraging overtime loss Mitchell, with less than a minute remaining in overtime, was assessed two technical fouls leading to his ejection when he stormed onto the court to challenge an ambiguous Morris Peterson loose ball foul. After the game, he stated he was proud of his team, but still looked too angry to discuss anything further.

The Raptors now have two days off from game action before facing the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening and Chris Bosh will undoubtedly be welcoming a few days of health and healing. As of right now it's questionable as to whether he'll practice or even play Wednesday however even in frustration with the injury, CB4 did have some very positive things to say about Villanueva's epic performance and seems to be quite intrigued by their growth together with this club.

And it seems that Bosh wasn't the only one thinking of the CV Smooth's future possibilities. Over on NBATV last evening Fred Carter and co. spent a good deal of time talking about Villanueva's performance and how this benefits the Raptors going forward. What struck me once again however was the complete lack of insight US basketball "experts" have on this club and some of the comments made were just plain incorrect. The best example of this was Carter and colleagues discussing that recently Charlie has started to be a long-range threat. Um...RECENTLY? You mean as in the past two years dating back to his days at UConn? Do these people even watch games?

And speaking of the Huskies, Villanueva admitted that finding out at half-time that his Alma-matter had been knocked out of Final Four contention by George Mason put "a little fire" into his step. A little fire may be an understatement because by game's end he had scored more points than any rookie this season, any Raptors' rookie ever and any Raptor not named Vince Carter.

Note to Sam Mitchell from the HQ staff...perhaps you should keep a tape of UConn's loss handy for the rest of the season...

FRANCHISE