Raps' Bosh bounces back

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Sam Mitchell and Rafer Alston have some blunt advice for Chris Bosh:

"Shoot, dammit, shoot!"

That might seem like the wrong thing to say to a 6-foot-10 forward who plays on a Raptors team that already relies far too heavily on long-range jumpers.

But in the case of the 20-year-old Bosh, this is a confidence issue as he settles into his second NBA season.

"Yeah, Chris has been hesitant," said Mitchell, the Raptors' head coach, prior to his club's stunning 104-95 victory against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City last night.

"He's open for 15-foot shots, but he hasn't been making them, so he doesn't want to take them. And you have to shoot the ball.

"Once you turn down a 15-foot shot, it puts a strain on everyone else. Because now when you pass the ball, you're playing against the shot clock."

After two sub-par performances in a row, Bosh bounced back with a vengeance last night, scoring a team-high 20 points on 10-for-14 shooting.

He still missed a couple of jumpers that he would prefer to have back, and his grimace on those occasions told the story. But most of his buckets were of the high-percentage variety down low in the post as he worked his way out of a funk that had seen him score only six points in his previous two games.

"On a personal level, we play a lot of games in the NBA, and I knew I'd have to bounce back sometime," Bosh said afterward. "And we found a way to win. That's what it's all about, finding a way."

After the Raptors had been blown out in Sacramento on Tuesday, Bosh was as despondent as he ever has been. But the look of relief on his face last night was apparent to anyone within a 10-mile radius of the Delta Center.

"Chris is still a young player," Mitchell said. "He's going to have nights when he's really, really great, and he's going to have nights when he struggles offensively. But I told him, he has the talent to do other things, too.

"We're trying to run some things (offensively) for Chris, but when he's open we have to deliver the ball. We're going to have to find a way to get him the ball back on the block, and when we get it to him he's going to have to be decisive and make moves."

According to Alston, the Raptors' starting point guard, it's obvious how opposing teams are playing Bosh. And presumably, what Bosh should be doing about it is equally obvious.

"Chris just has to shoot the shot the defence gives him," Alston said.

"The defence is giving him a cushion, because they know he's too quick for them. But if they give you a cushion, shoot the jumper. If Chris keeps working on that, eventually his pump-fake game will work again. Sometimes Chris is pump-faking, but the defender already is five feet away from him, so it isn't doing any good.

"In the NBA, teams pick their poison. With Chris, they're giving him a cushion to shoot the jumper. So shoot it."

Of course, when you're a team player and you've been missing those jumpers, you start to feel guilty about taking them. There is a fine line between working your way out of a rut for the good of the team, and passing the ball to someone else for the good of the team.

No one doubts Bosh is a team-first guy. But sometimes that means being selfish enough to take the open jumper when you're presented with one.

"Right now, the jumpers are just not falling," Bosh said. "But I have to keep at it."

His version of "keeping at it" last night made him one of the best players on the court.

When you're as talented as Chris Bosh, that's the luxury you have, as long as you're willing to work hard. If one part of your game isn't clicking, then heck, just switch to another part and go from there.


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