Ford forced into a shooting role

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

T.J. Ford's stats line resembled previous Raptors numbers from shot-happy point guards Rafer Alston and Mike James, but coach Sam Mitchell was not about to whine about his new starter.

Instead, Mitchell shifted the focus to the rest of the culprits -- the list could include anybody except Chris Bosh -- for not following the game plan in a 103-94 loss against the San Antonio Spurs yesterday at the Air Canada Centre.

"(If) the other guy, when he passes to him, are not going to make a move, not going to be aggressive coming off screen and roles, he is stuck with the ball. He has to shoot," Mitchell said after Ford took 14 shots, five of them for buckets, putting him second on the team in attempts behind Chris Bosh (18).

"But when I see other guys who were open and they turn down the shot and they throw it back to him, there is nothing he can do. He's playing against the shot clock."

Having a late shot-clock attempt from the inconsistent-shooting Ford is anything but the top option, so give the Spurs credit for putting him in that position.

Ford, who prefers passing to shooting, tried to take matters into his own hands in the fourth quarter when he scored 10 of his 15 points by going to the net and looking for an opening. Perhaps it was a sign of desperation and frustration as the Raptors didn't run the floor, which is what they're supposed to be doing every game.

"I was able to just force my way in there toward the end," said Ford, who finished with five assists after averaging nine helpers in the first two games. "The biggest thing is you try to find guys that are relaxing when there are that many guys (back on defence for San Antonio). It took a long time for me to feel that guys were relaxing."

Much of the plot-line might stem from the fact that San Antonio is a veteran team that has played the same way for years. Its goal is to dictate the pace and it did just that yesterday.

The Raptors are playing a new system and, for some reason, went away from how they have to play and fell into the Spurs' trap.

"They did a good job getting back," Ford said. "They know the scouting report, that we're a running team. They got three guys back and stopped me from penetrating."


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