Mitchell collects thoughts

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

Now that Sam Mitchell has calmed down, the Raptors coach is dumping the thought of changing his starting lineup.

After the Raptors played a horrible first quarter en route to a 111-102 loss against the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Friday, Mitchell raised the possibility of creating a new starting five. But Mitchell, given two days to think things over, said yesterday frustration played a big part in his rant.

"I was just kind of (angry) after the game, that's all," Mitchell said. "I thought about it, but just five games into the season, that wouldn't make sense. (Against Atlanta), we win the game except for the first quarter."

It also is worth noting that the first quarter against Atlanta wasn't a reflection of how the Raptors have started most games this season. In their first five games, the Raptors outscored opponents three times in the opening quarter.

SAME OLD STORY

The Raptors paid plenty of attention to defence in the pre-season and the early reviews were positive, with Mitchell saying the defence was ahead of the offence while giving defensive endorsements to new players Rasho Nesterovic, Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa.

But through five games, the new-look Raptors look an awful lot like last season's bad outfit in the stats department. The Raptors are second-worst in the NBA in opponents field-goal percentage (48.9). Last year, they were last in that category at 49.1. Mitchell said the key to improving defensively is preventing star players from getting the ball in their hands.

"You've got to do your dirty work early," Mitchell said.

"The thing you've got to do as a player when you're guarding great scorers, you've got to try everything you can not to let them catch the ball. Everybody knows once the offence player catches it, he has the advantage."

TOUGH ROAD AHEAD

Recent history suggests the Raptors will be lucky to win just one game on their current five-game West Coast swing.

In road games against the five teams on this trip -- the Kings, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets -- last season, the Raptors were 0-5.


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