Coach likes hockey helpers

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Unlike some fellow Toronto residents, Sam Mitchell does not spend his free time debating who should make up the Maple Leafs' fourth line.

But while the Raptors coach is the first to admit he is the furthest thing from a hockey encyclopedia, there is one aspect of the sport he wishes basketball would emulate.

Mitchell gives hockey full marks for handing out a second assist on some goals. The pass to the eventual assist-maker is something Mitchell wants star forward Chris Bosh to master.

"The main thing is getting Chris to understand he doesn't have to make the pass for the layup," Mitchell said. "All he has got to do is make the pass to the first open guy and let that guy make the next pass. Kind of like hockey. I don't know anything about hockey, but I think that's why they give the assist to the guy who makes the pass to the guy who makes the pass (who then passes to the scorer). That's the most important pass."

Mitchell simply wants to see his team move the basketball. When the Raptors do that, they have success, as evidenced by their franchise-record 129 points on 29 assists on Sunday in a win against the New York Knicks.

When the Raptors stop distributing the ball, the opposite scenario transpires, like Tuesday when the Raptors tied a season-low with 13 assists in a 111-98 loss against the Utah Jazz.

"When (you) catch the basketball, the natural tendency is to dribble," Mitchell said. "That's the worst thing you can do when you catch the basketball. If you catch it in an area where it's your range, look and see if you've got a shot. If you don't got it then, it has got to be an automatic pass. I think (the) tendency is to take that bounce and by the time you do that, it gives the defence a chance to react."

FREE THROWS

Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko's triple-double against the Raptors on Tuesday was the first by a Utah player since Karl Malone in 1999 ... Amazing stat: Since Jerry Sloan was hired to coach the Jazz on Dec. 9, 1988, there have been 184 coaching changes in the NBA, including five by the Raptors.


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