Raptors happy with D

Toronto Raptors rookie Andrea Bargnani gets by Memphis Grizzlies' Pau Gasol on Wednesday. (Sun...

Toronto Raptors rookie Andrea Bargnani gets by Memphis Grizzlies' Pau Gasol on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Stan Behal)

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

A win over the struggling Memphis Grizzlies may not seem like much on the surface, but as a handful of Raptors suggested afterward, it wasn't just the end of a losing streak that made this one special.

Heading into the final 20 games of the season, the Raptors (33-29) have proven they can score with just about any team in the league and certainly every team in the Eastern Conference.

Where they have come up short has been on the defensive end, but in the aftermath of running up the score on the last-place Grizzlies on Wednesday (at least until garbage time) it was their work at the other end of the floor that has this club feeling good about itself again.

Chris Bosh was asked after the game if this is the best defensive effort he's seen from this club in some time.

"Yeah, I think so, but only because we talked," Bosh said. "It's all about talking on defence. We are a much better team when everyone is communicating and pointing, telling guys where to go. As long as we keep doing that we can be a tough team to beat."

The main focus of the defensive plan on Wednesday was forcing Memphis' 7-foot forward Pau Gasol to settle for outside shots, or better still force him to give up the ball.

"The coaching staff did a great job preparing us," guard Juan Dixon said. "They really wanted us to keep our paint tight and we did it. They had a post presence with Gasol. We tried to take away his post-up and make him shoot from the perimeter."

Bosh was on Gasol most of the night, but any move Gasol made toward the basket and Dixon, along with T.J. Ford or Calderon, would be jumping in to help.

"We wanted to sit in his lap," Mitchell said of Gasol. "We wanted to force the pass. I thought Dixon and Ford, they contested the shot."

Gasol wound up with 16 points, almost five points shy of his nightly average.

Bosh said the key was communicating.

"We talked a lot," Bosh said. "I think that's the most we talked probably the whole year. When we have guys pointing and talking, that makes the (other team) hesitate and even if somebody is not there we talk and act like someone is. You would be surprised how much it makes teams stop for one split second and then we're back in a set defence."

Dixon, a newcomer to the starting rotation filling in for the injured Anthony Parker, was thrilled with all the chatter.

"When you communicate it makes your defence that much better," the fourth-year shooting guard said. "That's what I tried to tell Chris and we were able to do that for 48 minutes. If we are going to be a contender we have to communicate on the defensive end. That's how you win championships (Dixon won an NCAA championship with Maryland)."


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