Raptors' revelation

Raps guard Jarrett Jack doesn't want to celebrate a breakthrough on defence just yet. (QMI...

Raps guard Jarrett Jack doesn't want to celebrate a breakthrough on defence just yet. (QMI Agency/Chris Bernacchi)

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

CHICAGO -- For a day, the Raptors defence will rest.

Even the harshest critic would have to admit they have earned it.

At the same time, that same critic would have to be puzzled by the sudden transformation.

How does a team go from giving up 146 points one night in Atlanta to limiting opponents on back-to-back nights to the fewest points the Raps have allowed all season?

On Friday in Washington, the Wizards expended so much energy getting back in the game after a 17-point first quarter that they had little left in overtime.

Here in Chicago, the following night, the Raps clamped the Bulls from the opening tip and never let up, holding them to 78 points -- a season low for a Raptors opponent.

That was the first time in 13 games the Raps had held an opponent under 100 points. In no season before that had they gone as many as nine without keeping an opponent from triple-digit scoring.

The Raptors came into the Chicago game giving up, on average, 110.8 points a night and dropped that average by a full point and a half.

'CONTAGIOUS'

So, what gives?

"It's the attitude, man," guard Jarrett Jack said. "I think now we are enjoying being able to stop people. It's something that is not easy, but when you see other people doing it, it becomes contagious. I think that's what has happened with this team."

Jack, though, like his head coach Jay Triano and best friend and teammate Chris Bosh, doesn't want to celebrate a breakthrough just yet. He knows the team's defensive fortunes turned on a dime this week and is aware it could turn back if anyone becomes complacent.

"We can't be satisfied with these two games," Jack said. "We have to have some carryover. At least, we are going home now and we've banked some momentum with our fans."

The difference for Jack in the past two games has been a little bit more of everything.

"More talk, more movement, more effort," he said rhyming it off easily. "Everyone is wanting to help somebody. We're not just looking at each other when somebody has a breakdown. You're letting him know that if something does happen you're going to be there. 'Don't worry about it. I'm behind you.' That's a special thing to have."

The Atlanta game -- and the ensuing closed-door team meeting -- was obviously the tipping point. Something had to change and Jack said it opened the door for a lot of guys, including himself, to speak their mind. Often, such gatherings are scoffed at -- mere window dressing. But according to Jack, the meeting Friday morning in Washington helped turn the tide.

"It just all came to a head," Jack said. "I was in a really foul mood. I was just waiting for something to happen so I could speak up. I wasn't the only one to speak. Everyone had their say and we're just making it work now."

Bosh simplifies it.

"We just want to win basketball games, that's all it's about," he said. "It's all about effort and working. We know the coverages. We just have to do what we need to do."

MIKE.GANTER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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