A kinder, gentler Sam

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell took it easy at practice yesterday. SUN MEDIA FILE

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell took it easy at practice yesterday. SUN MEDIA FILE

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

There was no "wrath of Sam" to deal with yesterday for the Raptors.

Practice actually was shortened by a half hour when head coach Sam Mitchell determined his club had accomplished everything it needed to get done.

Hot on the heels of Sunday's LeBron James torching in which the Cleveland Cavaliers' Mr. Everything zoned in for the final 12 minutes, pumping out a franchise high 24 points to erase what was, at one point, a 20-point Raptor lead, Mitchell was in a let-bygones-be-bygones mood.

While the shorter practice and light-hearted mood caught members of the local media off guard, Chris Bosh, a veteran of Mitchell's mood swings, was not surprised in the least.

"He doesn't surprise me," Bosh said. "I've seen every side of him. I just sit back and wait to see how he's going to be." Mitchell, in fact, was pleased with a lot of what his club did on Sunday despite James' last-quarter heroics.

"I would take a lot of the things we did in the Cleveland game every night," Mitchell said. "We clean up a few things and get better at some others, we'll win a lot more than we will lose."

Mitchell's main concern with the game was the way his team was beaten on the glass -- outrebounded 52-33 -- and the way his offence dried up in the fourth quarter when shots they had been making all game suddenly didn't fall.

If Mitchell could change that and the way his team failed to put the game out of reach when opportunities presented themselves at the end of the quarter, he's convinced there will be more wins to celebrate and fewer losses to lament.

"If we learned anything from that game it was that if you have a chance to get a team down further, you get them down further. That has to be the mentality of the team," Mitchell said.

As for the shortened practice, Mitchell said it was a matter of being prudent.

"You guys are going to beat them up enough anyway," he said, referring to the media. "We all feel bad. For me, my job is to (provide encouragement) and point out the things they did well.

"We talked about the things we didn't do well and they know it but we did a few good things. We didn't come in here sulking and feeling sorry for ourselves.

"We hit the floor and we probably had one of our better practices. I'm proud of them for that because they have to let it go. I have to let it go and they have to let it go. If not we will have a hangover.

"I thought we did a good job today of letting it go because there really was nothing to talk about."

Bosh said Mitchell's approach, while not surprising, certainly was welcomed.

"We didn't watch film. There was nothing to watch," Bosh said. "We appreciate that. Sam knows we fought hard and he knows we're disappointed too.

"It was no reason to come in hear yelling and shouting. (LeBron James) made four consecutive threes. He created. He's a great basketball player."

Both Bosh and Mitchell are well aware of the pitfalls of a coach angry over losing games that could have been won who takes it out on his team the next day with 90-minutes of hard running.

"Some coaches would, but that's when people get hurt," Bosh said. "We still practised hard. We responded well. When you get coaches (who run teams into the ground after a disappointing loss) like that, sometimes you lose the players' focus and that's how losing streaks get started. We're just looking forward to (tomorrow's) game."

The Raps play host to Philadelphia tomorrow.


Videos

Photos