Sam goes over 2's, 3's

MIKE KOREEN, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 2:00 PM ET

LOSANGELES -- The Raptors hold the NBA record for most three-pointers in consecutive games at 621, but coach Sam Mitchell would not mind a little less long-range shooting from his club.

Much has been made about the Raptors' shooting woes this season, problems that make it very difficult for the team to win because of its traditional bad defence.

One of the ways out of a shooting slump is a basic change: Move in.

"What I would think you have to do and the thing we talked to our guys about is if you're not a three-point shooter, step into the 18-, 19-foot range," Mitchell said last night before his 2-5 team faced the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. "We tell them all the time, step in. That means not step in after you catch the ball, but be there before you catch it. Now, what happens, if you do have to drive, (with) one dribble you can get to the basket instead of two dribbles."

It will be interesting to see if the Raptors can move away from their old habit of putting the ball up from beyond the three-point arc. The Raptors are shooting at a lowly 32.4% clip on three-point shots and 43.4% from the field overall.

Guys like Fred Jones (32.1% from three territory) and Jorge Garbajosa (17.6) would be wise to step in, especially the Spaniard, who is traditionally a 50% shooter.

With Chris Bosh drawing even more double teams than usual, the open looks certainly are available.

"It's frustrating," Jones said. "Any time you get a wide open shot you expect to knock it down. Me personally, I got a lot of wide-open shots I didn't knock down (Tuesday night in a loss against the Golden State Warriors). I felt like every one I was going to knock down. I just got to get in the gym, put in the extra work and get ready to hit those shots."

As disappointing as the Raptors' slow start to the season has been, Mitchell isn't overly surprised that some of his new players haven't caught fire.

"I believe in these guys, I know we're going to get it together," Mitchell said. "But you have to respect the NBA and you have to understand this is different than playing anywhere else you're ever going to play. It's different, man. The people you play against, the arenas, the officiating, it's just all different. The amount of games we play, the travel, it's not the same. For people to try to compare it, there is no comparison."

With nine new players on the team and three key ones from the European league ranks -- Anthony Parker, Jorge Garbajosa and Andrea Bargnani -- Mitchell is preaching patience. He points to Spanish point guard Jose Calderon, much better this season than he was in his rookie season, as a perfect example of the learning curve.

"There are no quick fixes," Mitchell said. "Everybody would like to think that. But it's a lot of hard work and it takes some patience. The thing with me is I'm not going to lose patience."


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