Missed layups led to Raptors downfall

The Toronto Raptors take to the floor before their home opener against the New York Knicks. (Dave...

The Toronto Raptors take to the floor before their home opener against the New York Knicks. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:35 PM ET

TORONTO - Did opening-night angst cost the Raptors a win Wednesday night against the New York Knicks?

That was the message bandied about after practice at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday.

Raptors head coach Jay Triano said his squad just missed easy shots that will start to fall as players find their offensive rhythm.

“If we can hold teams to 43% from the field, we’re going to win a lot of basketball games,” Triano said.

“I don’t think we’re going to shoot 38% and watching the tape, we missed 12 layups that we normally make.

“If it was jump shots, then you start thinking: ‘I’m not shooting the ball that well,’ but these are layups and we’re going to make those.”

Forward/centre Amir Johnson, coming off a game to forget, concurred with his coach.

“We were kind of too anxious, we missed a lot of layups,” Johnson said.

“Probably just the first game jitters. You can’t get that one back, so we’ve just got to move on to the next one. I’m definitely one of (the Raptors) who can be better.”

Andrea Bargnani blamed fatigue for the many missed makeable shots that allowed the Knicks to go on a couple of crucial runs.

“I think it was conditioning,” Bargnani said.

“It’s the first game. We still have to reach 100% shape.

“(In the) second half, everybody was a bit tired. I was aggressive all game, I just missed a couple of shots.”

Bargnani’s misses were mostly mid-range ones, but more surprising were the blown layups, particularly by two players who traditionally are highly effective from in close — Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa.

A year after missing ample time because a wrist injury, Barbosa is dealing with another wrist ailment that requires him to play with a cumbersome brace in order to put off surgery.

“It’s a little sore, it’s a little uncomfortable,” Barbosa said.

“I don’t usually miss those kinds of layups, I just have to get used to the brace. I’ll be fine. I will make the layups. I promise.”

Triano also is confident things will turn around.

“If you can name five (shots the Raptors took) that were not good, I’d be surprised. We were in the lane all of the time. Most times we’re going to make those shots and we’re going to be a lot better off offensively than we were. If we make half of the layups that we missed last night, it’s not close.”

That said, if New York makes more than the 7-of-24 three-point attempts they took, the game wouldn’t have been as close as it was either.

Defence often plays a major role in missed shots — they contested a lot of those New York threes — it just seems the Raptors don’t think it did for their own clanks on Wednesday.

The Cavaliers are a far better defensive outfit than the run-and-gun Knicks and will offer much more resistance.

Reggie Evans, perhaps the best-performing Raptor dating back to the pre-season, believes the offence can come around with more unselfish play.

“We make one more pass, I think we would have been perfect,” Evans said.

“Just like the Boston and Miami game (a Celtics win on Tuesday night). Paul Pierce, he’s a clutch guy but he said: ‘Why should I shoot this (tough) shot when I’ve got Ray (Allen) open in the corner?’ ”

Whether it’s more passing or better finishing, something’s got to give.

Because 38% shooting is not going to cut it no matter how many steps this team has taken defensively.


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