Glass half full

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

Like any good psychologist, Jay Triano started with the good news yesterday when addressing his ragged Raptors.

"Over the past four games, teams are shooting just 38% against us," the coach relayed to the media yesterday. "That's No. 1 in the NBA. (League champion) Boston's first at 41%. Take our last seven games, even though we got blown out, it's 42%, second in the NBA, exactly what the Cleveland Cavaliers are at. We're in good company at that end. If we rebound the ball, we'll be okay."

But that last point is a sharp one, which has snagged Triano's takeover from Sam Mitchell and figured prominently in their five losses and two wins. At 38.3 total rebounds a game, only the Charlotte Bobcats are worse in the league. If the Raptors don't get grabby on the glass tonight here against the Dallas Mavericks and lose again, they'll find it hard to get better in the midst of six straight road games over Christmas. The Raptors are coming off back-to-back home losses, capped by the New Jersey Nets winning 94-87.

"We played very good defence to hold a team to 38% and if you take away the second-chance points (26-2 Nets), we held them to 32.8% on first shots," Triano said. "But your job isn't done at the defensive end of the floor until you rebound the basketball. I made that clear to the players again today, mostly through video.

MUST BRING EFFORT

Triano and his staff spent the day trying to get players in the way in the lane and on the perimeter.

"Throw the ball up, go get 'em, box 'em out," Triano summed up. "We did a scrimmage and stopped it if we didn't have (forwards and centres) going to the basket.

"Obviously we can't be at the bottom of the league. It's a mindset that has to be practised, but we don't have the time. So we have to try to learn with video. I congratulated the players today on how fast they picked up the defensive concept of what we're trying to do. If we can learn the rebounding as fast as we learned the defence, we'll be a pretty good team."

Jamario Moon and Chris Bosh led the Raptors in rebounds the past two games.

"It's tough being in last place in rebounding, but it makes it worse when we're losing," Moon said. "Looking at that should make us want to come out hard (tonight)."

The Raptors have not utilized all of their big men of late, with Kris Humphries hurt, Andrea Bargnani playing some small forward and Jake Voskuhl just joining the team.

"To be honest, I go back to training camp," Triano said. "This is something that needs to be done there. You need to have drills and you teach and enforce them, not only in defensive rebounding, but if I can teach the Raptors to go to the offensive glass, then obviously the (other team's) defensive guys are going to be worried about boxing out on them."


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