Mitchell frustrated Raps keep ignoring his 'simple' message

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Vince Carter erupted in the second half. Sam Mitchell erupted, period.

After watching the Carter-led New Jersey Nets easily erase a 14-point halftime deficit en route to a 101-90 victory over his Raptors, a frustrated Mitchell suggested personnel changes could be in the cards if players refuse to follow his team's game plan.

"Newsflash -- if two or three people are guarding one, someone has got to be open, so pass the ball," an animated Mitchell said at his post-game news conference. "We shouldn't have to say that for 78 games.

"Until our players understand that you have to do it every night, come April 23 or 24, when the playoffs start, they are going to be watching. And it's our job, if they are not going to understand it, to find some people who are, because it's ridiculous.

"It's that simple."

With that, Mitchell left the room.

His message didn't, however. It seemed to come through loud and clear to Raptors players, who blamed the loss more on their own second-half meltdown than Carter's game-high 39 points.

"I think the first and second halfs were microcosms of our season," forward Jalen Rose said. "The first half we were doing everything right. We were sharing the ball and we were all playing our defensive assignments."

If so, why the implosion over the final 24 minutes?

"We didn't move the ball, we didn't play as a team at either end of the court," he said.

"Vince made some great shots but we didn't play as a team ... It's disappointing because I have been talking about the same stuff all season and I'm sounding like a broken record.

"I just wanted to win the game. That's the game the fans wanted us to win."

Along with praising Carter for his second-half surge, the Raptors were especially complimentary of the rabid throng that shoehorned its way into the Air Canada Centre, making the sometimes stagnant building a very electric place to be on this night.

"You give that guy credit and he gets hot, that's trouble," forward Chris Bosh said of Carter.

"As for what I saw from the fans here, they raised the bar for themselves. I hope they do the same next year."


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