Parker calls for balance

Anthony Parker (right) has an answer to what can cure the stagnant, mostly one-man fourth-quarter...

Anthony Parker (right) has an answer to what can cure the stagnant, mostly one-man fourth-quarter offence the Raptors have put on display recently. SUN MEDIA/Ernest Doroszuk

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

DENVER -- Anthony Parker is not a boat-rocker. He is a think-first, speak-after kind of guy. You want an emotional reaction from the Raptors locker room -- go find Primo Brezec. You want good, solid analysis of a situation, Parker is right there at the top of the list.

Normally, Parker's analysis stops well short of anything that could even be remotely construed as inflammatory.

So it was initially somewhat surprising in the wake of the Raptors' 117-106 loss at Golden State on Wednesday to hear Parker suggest that teammate T.J. Ford has got to start sharing the ball a little more, particularly in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

But then replaying his conversation with a handful of media types, one recalls the precision with which Parker chose his words. How careful he was to ensure this did not come out as an attack on a teammate but a suggestion that he believes can only help everyone wearing a Raptors uniform. You come to the conclusion that no, this was no knee-jerk reaction to a missed opportunity. This was Parker going a little further than he usually does but in the same thoroughly thought-through fashion of the player Parker has been his whole pro career. Clearly Parker felt it was time someone said something.

Parker's answer to what can cure the stagnant, mostly one-man fourth-quarter offence the Raptors have put on display in back-to-back losses?

"I think it's a balance between T.J. running that high screen and roll but also mixing it up and trying to get some movement," Parker said. "From a defensive standpoint it's easy when you know what is coming and you don't have to move around. We can get the same kind of looks but maybe after some motion and things like that and then everyone feels like they are part of the offence. I think in a lot of those cases we would get better looks."

"We just have to find a balance of T.J. being able to do what he does," Parker said. "He did a lot of good things. He got to the basket. He got to the free throw line. But I think we can make it a little bit easier for him."

The Raptors faithful can pull their hair out and scream obscenities at their televisions all they want over Ford's decision to put the game on his shoulders and win it or lose it practically by himself. But they also should remember that without Ford, the Raptors never would have been in a position to overcome that 18-point deficit Wednesday.

No, it didn't turn out to be a win, but would fans be any more placated had the Raptors, led by Ford, not worked their way back into this game?

Ford himself acknowledged something has to change.

"We just have to find a way to work it out," Ford said. "We know Denver (tonight) will be the same style of play. It's going to be another tough game for us. We just have to adapt. We have to continue to find a way ... You have different lineups and with (Chris Bosh) out things are different. We are trying to work it out while we are on the court. Because of the schedule you really don't get a chance to practise much."

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell, perhaps attempting to deflect some of the attention from Ford, suggested it's not all on his point guard.

"We have to get more movement," Mitchell said. "We have to get more people involved touching the basketball but when (our point guard) does give the ball up, those guys who catch it, they've got to make a play. Sometimes they have to sweep that ball through and not necessarily drive to the basket to score, but set up one of their teammates. We're so used to having our point guards make a play to set us up."

The good news for the Raptors is everyone involved acknowledges the need for change. The bad news is they have just three available days to practise in the next 10.


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