Active hands, sharing the ball key: Triano

Mike Gantner, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:38 AM ET

With the goal of becoming a more consistent basketball team in mind -— something every Raptors fan should already have on their wish list to Santa -— active hands were the single biggest accomplishment in Friday’s win over the hapless New Jersey Nets.

Sure the win was nice — and necessary — but in terms of identifying something the Raptors can take away with them, the pickings are slim — and not because a lot didn’t go right for the home team.

It’s more a case of the visitors not bringing anything. It goes without saying that no team from the current Association will ever make it easier for the Raptors to win than the Nets did Friday.

Hence active hands and the season-high 27 deflections they produced are the one thing Jay Triano would like to see his team learn from the game.

“We were just active on the ball and the deflections lead to transition which leads to easy baskets which builds confidence,” the Raptors coach said.

“I thought we shared the ball really well. I think everyone here wants to win but in the past they have tried to do it themselves. They try to be the person to get us back in the game. If we keep moving the basketball like we did, that’s when we’re more effective.”

And with Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets on their way into town today, active hands and a little of that Holiday Season-type sharing would go a long way to completing a two-game sweep of both the weekend here in Toronto and the season series with the Hornets.

Marco Belinelli, the guy the Raptors need to provide scoring off the bench, was one of the few who didn’t get a confidence boost from the Nets’ visit.

He has made just five of his past 28 attempts from the field, including a handful of layups that refused to drop.

Belinelli is well aware of his struggles and suggested yesterday that may be part of his problem.

“My mistake is that when I miss, maybe the first one, after that I think things like: ‘Oh my God. I missed that shot. How did I miss it?’

“That’s not good because for the rest of the game I’m thinking about it. The coaches are telling me to take my shots. Tomorrow is a new day.”

And with the Hornets on a roll, the Raps are going to need all their scorers rolling as well.

Toronto already is one up on the Hornets having beaten them 107-90 back on Nov. 6 in the Big Easy, but plenty has changed since then.

Hornets head coach Byron Scott is no longer around, having been replaced by general manager Jeff Bower, who added Tim Frank to his coaching staff. Those changes came Nov. 12. Since then, the Hornets are 9-7.

Chris Paul, the engine that makes the Hornets go, returned to the lineup seven games ago after missing eight in a row with a sprained ankle. Without him, the Hornets were 4-4. Since his return, the team has won five of seven and is coming off a huge 98-92 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday.

“Chris Paul is playing unbelievable right now,” Triano said. “He was 30 (points), 19 (assists) and nine (rebounds) against Denver. He’s better, (Peja) Stojakovic is coming back, (James) Posey is playing better. It’s going to be a tough game.”

Triano just hopes some of what his Raptors did right on Friday will carry over into today’s game.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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