A change of plans

The Toronto Raptors have found success by slowing the pace down. (Toronto Sun/Dave Thomas)

The Toronto Raptors have found success by slowing the pace down. (Toronto Sun/Dave Thomas)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Cancel that seven-second shot clock drill.

Put a stop to the Phoenix north talk.

Extinguish the 100-shot-per-game goal.

After spending the pre-season and early portions of the season talking about how they planned to run at all costs, the Raptors have found success by slowing the pace down.

Not that they never want to get out on the break. Now, they just want to pick their spots to do so.

"We weren't making shots and we're not going to run ourselves out of a basketball game because we're not shooting well," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "At some point, common sense has to kick in."

That's not the only thing kicking in -- so are the wins.

The Raptors have won four of their past five games while averaging 79.8 attempts. During their 2-8 start to the season, they took fewer than 80 shots just twice.

FIELD GOALS

Of course, the numbers aren't perfect indicators of the Raptors' play as they have gone to the free-throw line more than 30 times the past two games, lowering their field goal total. Nevertheless, it's obvious the team isn't as obsessed with the fast-paced approach.

"I'm calling a lot more plays," Mitchell said.

The run-and-gun style works best when players hit open shots, which the Raptors haven't done consistently all season. They have had only one game where they hit more than 47% of their shots from the field.

A big reason for the shooting woes has been the inconsistent play of the swingmen -- Morris Peterson, Fred Jones, Joey Graham and Anthony Parker.

Peterson missed the past seven games with an elbow injury and is hoping to return Wednesday in Cleveland against the Cavaliers, but the go-to veteran lost his spot in the starting lineup before the injury. Jones also lost his starting role this past weekend and has hit just one shot from the field the past four games. Parker is the team's best perimeter defender, but is hot and cold with his shooting, while Graham has improved, but remains unproven.

"All of us have struggled," Jones said. "My struggles have probably been the worst out of everybody. Hopefully my struggles are gone and the rest of us can get some things clicking. I think if all four of us can play well at one time, we're really tough to beat."

Apart from T.J. Ford and Chris Bosh, no one really really locked up a starting spot. That promotes healthy competition, which may bring out the best in players.

"I like the fact we have more guys," Mitchell said. "Is it difficult sometimes? Yeah, but it also keeps a certain amount of pressure on guys that they've got to come out and be ready to play. There's nothing wrong with that. It's actually a good thing."


Photos