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Tip-In: Audition Time

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In what was a messy game last night the Pacers defeated the Raps 111-103. The game was sloppy and at many times I actually considered changing to "Deal or No Deal" a new gameshow on Global that will hold your attention for about the same amount of time as "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" It's good...but only about 5 episodes good. Game shows these days make me feel like I have ADD, they entertain me but I lose interest in a hurry.

What does this tell me? Another losing season is coming to a close. Bosh is now going to be clothed in Armani for the final stretch of the season as he has been shut down for the year and with the playoffs out of reach in all honestly there is little to play for. There have been some great highlights this year and all in all the season played out pretty much as Babcock suspected it would. It will be even harder to watch the last few games if the Raps continue to lose. It is not outside the realm of possibility that they close out the season the way they started it...on a huge losing streak. So is it time to mail it in? Not quite, as many of the current members of this Raptors squad have a lot to play for. It's audition time for many on this team, and based on this game here is what they have shown.

Mike James

Auditioning for: Lead Role

Review: Baffled. Pretty sure that is the only word that explains my sentiment with this guy. Space Mountain almost had a triple-double in Lebron like fashion (far different from a Chris Paul triple-double) and without him the Raps never would have been in this game. On the flip side I don't understand some of the decisions, in particular late in the game. Why shoot a three from four feet behind the arc when there is 20 left on the shot clock? ESPECIALLY when you're only down by three! Why not play as you had earlier; roll off screens, pass the ball....but lead role?

Comparison: James is like Ashton Kutcher in the Butterfly Effect, surprisingly good performance, yet you just know he will never be a box office draw like Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise. He is going to want to be paid like these guys though.

Rafael Araujo

Auditioning For: Anything with a line...just looking for a role.

Review: Hoffa is playing for his job. He must know that. So why does he look so relaxed? Is there not more pressure now then when he was drafted 8th? What is his thought process right now? Do we care? No. Keep playing Hoffa cause RaptorsHQ is loving it. Hoffa did exactly what we look for, 6 points, 5 boards and some toughness. He made life a little harder for Jermaine O'Neal and looked competent. If there is one guy on this team who is going to benefit from Bosh's injury it is Hoffa.

In fact an audition comparison is fitting for Hoffa. He wants a part, will play whatever part is given to him, yet there is no indication as to what that part is. Ask youself, what is Rafael Araujo's role on this team now? Does he have one? Will he? Maybe if he continues to play at this "higher level" we will see a role developing. That being said if his role on this team is unclear how is he supposed to know what part of his game he needs to work on when the off-season comes around. Sure you could say everything, but one thing at a time.

Memo to the Maloofs....if I can get Hoffa in Sacramento to learn from Brad Miller at a reasonable cost I do it. Hoffa's game looks like it is meant for that high post role. He is a solid passer.

Comparison: Colin Hanks. Came out of no-where to star in "Orange County". Expectations were too high. Complete disappointment. Now will settle for playing the drunk fat dude in "Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny". Maybe with no expectations he may actually find a niche.

Morris Peterson

Auditioning For: Supporting Actor

Review: If Mike James walks and takes his hard-nosed approach elsewhere I am good with having Mo P playing an even larger role with this team. I have been amazed with his development and now have a lot of faith in him when the ball is in his hands. I can honestly say I never felt like that with him prior to this year. He has broken out of his shell, and even though tonight's game was not his best, he has shown he has the ability to go off, to carry the load and get his teammates, and the fans, into the game. If Colangelo were to move him in the off-season I would be very surprised and very upset. His Production Per Dollar is fantastic and he is just now coming into his prime. He is also the one guy that plays consistent D. Although he only had 12 points tonight he did grab seven boards and dished three assists prior to fouling out.

(Speaking of fouls, the Raps weak D is being exposed to a whole new level. When you are letting opponents get to the line almost 50 times a game there is something drastically wrong. The reason? No shot-blocking or intimidating force in the paint. At least when Bosh was healthy opponents would have to think about having their shots blocked or altered...not the case now. That being said that do not consider this as support for signing a guy like Przybilla in the off-season. I think that is a TERRIBLE idea. I would much rather overpay Mike James than Joel.)

Comparison: Cuba Gooding Jr. Can be a wingman like no other, but has a tough time when he is asked to be the lead. Mo P is the ultimate complimentary player.

Sam Mitchell

Auditioning For: Director

Review: Sam cares. No matter what you think of his coaching Sam cares. He cares about his guys, he wants to win and he will coach his heart out until the final game of the season. I respect him and when I see the Mad Scientist Kevin O'Neal on Indiana's bench I have an even greater appreciation for Sam. Over time and with more experience he will become an above average head coach, at least better than Doc Rivers.

Just as a heads-up there are likely to be two main story lines for the Raps next year. The first is the attempted drive to the playoffs and the second will be Sam Mitchell and his contract status. The latter could have very detrimental effect on the former. This could be one of Colangelo's first major tests here in TO.

Comparison: Mel Gibson as a director. He was a solid actor and when he went into directing he didn't exactly look like a pro after directing "Man Without a Face", but you could tell there was something there. He later on directed a small film called "Braveheart"...I think Mitchell has it in him provided he gets a little better with the x's and o's.

All in all this game was just another example of the team having some nice pieces in place but still being far from having a solid cast through and through.

Quick Hits

- The Pacers are done in the first round of the playoffs (if they get in.) This team is just missing something.

- Is it completely impossible for Hoffa and Pape to have good games on the same night?

- No Peja in the off-season. The way Charlie is playing we really don't have a place for him and his lack of D.

- If I were an NBA defender I think I would be a little nervous when Joey Graham was coming at me full speed. He is SAVAGE.

- Jermaine O'Neal for Steve Francis and Channing Frye in the off-season? Just a thought.

- Want cheap Raps tickets? Try this Sunday vs. the Bobcats.

- Draft is in 81 days. If I am Colangelo and the draft is today I trade down and grab Ronnie Brewer...or Marcus Williams.

HOWLAND