Nailing Wright shots at right time

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:16 AM ET

Antoine Wright’s jump shot has given the Raptors a shot in the arm.

Somewhat overlooked in the team’s recent win streak has been Wright’s ability to knock down shots.

Not just ordinary shots when the Raptors have made runs, but shots in crunch time.

There was a seal-the-deal moment against the Miami Heat when Wright spotted up on the right baseline, squared his shoulders, got his feet underneath him and confidently released a rainbow arc that found nothing but net.

There were a series of open looks Wright capitalized in New York and another made jumper when he had time to take a couple of dribbles before attempting his heave from the top of the circle.

Entering Sunday’s tip against the visiting Indiana Pacers, Wright has gone eight of 16 from the field, including 4-for-5 from beyond the three-point arc, while averaging 11.0 points.

Not bad for a veteran reserve known primarily for his defence and who admittedly has been struggling to find his shooting rhythm.

“It’s confidence,” Wright said when asked to explain the recent turnaround. “When you start to see the ball go in more, your frame of mind is such that you’re ready to shoot.”

Wright has put in extra hours to refine his rhythm. Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan, who will miss his third straight game (sprained ankles) on Sunday, Marco Belinelli and assistant coach Eric Hughes have taken turns working with Wright.

“It was just a matter of putting in the time and taking a lot of shots,” Wright said. “It’s all about volume.”

Shot selection was an issue, but it’s hard to argue Wright’s judgment these days.

The timing of some of Wright’s makes has also been impeccable.

“Make or miss, it’s not a situation where I’m worried about taking a shot,’’ Wright said. “It’s just a matter of focus and being ready when the ball comes my way.”

The Raptors forward primary assets are his defence and toughness.

He fought through early foul trouble against the Lakers and harassed Kobe Bryant, especially down the stretch.

Wright is now on the floor playing meaningful minutes when games are won or lost.

His ability to make shots gives the Raptors another scoring option, especially when Hedo Turkoglu is drawing defenders or when Chris Bosh is drawing double teams.

The Raptors have won 10 of their last 11 home games.

Five of their next six are at the Air Canada Centre. The one away tip before the NBA’s all-star break is against the struggling Pacers.

In other words, the stage is set for the Raptors to go on a huge run.

And no longer are the Raptors allowing their offence, or lack thereof, to dictate how they defend.

“There’s a lot of effort on defence,’’ Wright said. “We know we’re right there in the hunt with a lot of teams bunched up.

“We need to try to get some separation from those teams (namely Miami, Charlotte and Chicago). Our focus is in the right place. We’re boxing out and making it tough on other teams.”

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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