Raptors regroup with defensive emphasis against Magic Print
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Monday, 21 April 2008 11:37
NBA Headline News

 ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -The Toronto Raptors tinkered with their starting lineup and tried a few new plays early in their first-round playoff opener against the Orlando Magic.
The result? After 12 minutes and a barrage of Magic 3-pointers, they were down 43-23, and all but out of it with three quarters left. But Raptors coach Sam Mitchell doesn't think their 114-100 loss Sunday had anything to do with the changes.
``The problem was we didn't play defense in the first quarter,'' Mitchell said.
He's convinced they can do better. As evidence, he mentioned the last six minutes of the first half, when the Magic scored only three points.
``I think any coach in the history of all sports would take that,'' Mitchell said. ``So we understand that we can play a lot better defense.''
Mitchell said he intends to stay with Andrea Bargnani at small forward in Game 2 on Tuesday night instead of rookie Jamario Moon, who had started 75 games.
The Raptors wanted the 7-foot Bargnani's size to keep Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu out of the post, but it's out-of-position for the former No. 1 overall pick. Moon saw his 28-minute-per-game average shrunk to just 4:48 on Sunday.
``We're asking a lot of (Bargnani) to go out there, step outside and be involved in pick and rolls - something he's not used to,'' Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. ``We know its tough on him but we're trying to take away their post-ups.''
Bosh, too, will be making adjustments. Blanketed by Rashard Lewis, he was 4-of-11 from the field but a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line for 21 points in Game 1. He said Toronto was trying too hard to adjust to the Magic, the playoff opponent it has known for weeks it would draw.
``I think the players got caught up in it, especially on defense,'' Bosh said. ``We'd start giving them lanes, trying to cut off their right or left hand instead of playing them straight up, and that's how they got a lot of 3s. Tomorrow we just need to play straight up, play a classic style of basketball.''
The question for Orlando is whether it can sustain that level of offense. The Magic tied a playoff record by going 9-of-11 on 3-point shooting in the first quarter, but went 4-for-18 the rest of the way. Orlando averaged just under 10 3s per game this season.
``The 3 is sort of a streaky thing, and you hope on most nights it's something that evens out over the course of the game, and it did last night,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``You're not going to keep up what we did in the first quarter.''
It didn't help that Lewis, who led the team in 3-pointers made and hit 2-of-3 in the Magic's 43-point first quarter, tired himself out chasing Bosh.
``I had to pick my spots where I could take it on the offensive end, because he kind of wore me out trying to front him and fight him in the post,'' Lewis said.
Bosh said Lewis' strong-arming surprised him, but he thinks he knows how to play it now.
``He sat on my left hand - took me awhile to figure that out,'' said Bosh, a lefty. ``I've seen that before and I've had success against it. Now I know the scheme and I can break it down and I know what I can get out of it. I'm going to definitely use everything early to set myself up for later in the game.''
Though Toronto helped cool Orlando's 3-point shots later in the game, they couldn't solve Dwight Howard inside. The All-Star center had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the second half alone. Perhaps as important, the 59 percent free throw shooter made 9-of-11 from the line.
``Now we have to think twice about fouling him,'' Bosh said. ``But we still have to see if that was only one game.''
 

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