Bargnani heating up

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Andrea Bargnani's sophomore funk is beginning to subside.

The second-year Raptor has responded well to his move back into the starting rotation just before Christmas even though his scoring remains down.

Bargnani looked much like the Bargnani of old in a win over New Orleans on Monday. The Raps 7-foot centre had 17 points in just over 31 minutes, while helping get the Hornets Tyson Chandler into foul trouble, which turned out to be huge in the final quarter.

"He played great tonight," point guard Jose Calderon said. "That's how he has to play. He has to concentrate and try to relax a little bit. I think he was trying to do too many things. We need him to play that way."

Head coach Sam Mitchell says he's been seeing a change in Bargnani over the past few games.

"I think since the Phoenix game, even though the stats haven't showed it, I thought he played better," Mitchell said. "Since the Phoenix game he has been more under control, his decision-making has been better and you saw (in New Orleans) he battled. He made some key baskets when we were struggling and he played well."

JUAN'S TIME

Juan Dixon is doing a decent job of learning a new position on the go. Mitchell, though, is looking forward to two days of practice before the Raps next game to allow Dixon to get a little more comfortable in the backup point guard role he has assumed with T.J. Ford out.

"Every day that we practice it helps Juan get more comfortable," Mitchell said.

"My whole thing with Juan is telling him every day he's a point guard. One day at practice he came in at the two-guard spot. I told him 'Juan you are a point guard.' I don't even want him thinking any other way. I want him thinking like a point guard."


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