No panic in Raptors

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

If Sam Mitchell's contract isn't renewed at the end of the season, he could get a job at Boys Town.

Mitchell stopped short of giving his players a team bear hug yesterday, but he definitely took the kind and gentle approach after the Raptors played one of their worst games of the year Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, losing to the New York Knicks, 92-74, in a game that saw his team set season lows in a number of offensive categories.

Worse than not clicking on offence, the Raptors seemed disinterested on defence and in sharing the ball -- which this team needs to do in order to succeed.

Still, never a discouraging word was spoken by the team's head coach yesterday, following a hard practice at the Air Canada Centre. Perhaps Mitchell saved his rant for behind closed doors. In public, though, he definitely was taking the glass is half full approach, even though his club has lost two games in a row and looked underwhelming in both of them.

"There's no use harping on it," Mitchell said. "Our guys have been good and they worked hard today and we look forward to getting ready for (tomorrow)."

The Raptors play host to the Orlando Magic, which defeated the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon, 97-83.

"We had a good practice. We got some good work in, watched the film (of the Knicks game), the third quarter from last night," Mitchell said. "And now we've got to let it go. We've done too many other good things (this season) and our guys have been very good about bouncing back when we've had bad performances.

"We just got to move on," he said. "We don't need to look behind us, we need to keep looking forward. Just keep playing, and we'll be fine."

The Raptors had starting shooting guard Anthony Parker back for Sunday's game, after he missed Wednesday's clash against the visiting Houston Rockets, but his presence did little to lift the Raptors. Parker reportedly tweaked his sore right ankle in practice yesterday, but Mitchell is hopeful he'll be ready for tomorrow's game against Orlando. The team also has been without backup point guard Jose Calderon, who has a sprained left ankle. Calderon did not practice yesterday and is uncertain for the Orlando game.

The last player off the court after practice yesterday was all-star forward Chris Bosh, who said that the Raptors, who are five games ahead of the New Jersey Nets and 51/2 ahead of the Knicks for first place in the Atlantic Division (and a guaranteed playoff spot) have to play with a little more desperation, even though they're in the driver's seat.

"Just on the defensive end," he said. "When we show desperation in the offensive end, we don't make the right plays. We need to be relaxed on offence, move the ball, play our basketball. And on our defence have a sense of urgency and try not to let teams score so easily."

Bosh insisted that his team will not play three sub-par games in a row.

"We had our little taste of losing earlier in the season. I've had mine pretty much my whole career (in the NBA) and guys don't want to go to back to that," he said. "We don't like that taste in our mouth. I think as the season goes on, we'll be more aggressive."

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WILL THE RAPTORS REBOUND?

How the Raptors, now on a two-game losing streak, have reacted after losing consecutive games this season:

Nov. 3 -- 109-102 win against the Milwaukee Bucks

Nov. 14 --110-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors

Nov. 20 --10-96 loss to the Utah Jazz

Dec. 10 -- 93-83 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers

Jan. 3 -- 100-98 loss to the Phoenix Suns

March 6 -- 129-109 loss to the Washington Wizards

Tomorrow -- versus the Orlando Magic


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