Bargnani working both ends of court

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

Things are clear again for Andrea Bargnani and that's a huge deal for the Raptors.

The Raps centre had lost his focus over the past few weeks with his role changing in the absence of Chris Bosh and then again when Bosh returned.

On Wednesday night, however, Bargnani was back to being the guy who not only produced points on one end, but was productive on the defensive end of the floor, as well.

"We need him to focus," head coach Jay Triano said. "When we were rolling, he was doing more things and it becomes a confidence building thing for him. If he's not making shots (he has to) do something else so we can keep him on the floor. Defend, be there on the help side, rebound and box out.

"When we were rolling, he was doing that and scoring. I think sometimes when he doesn't get the basketball, he gets a little frustrated and it has been tough with sliding Chris back into the lineup for him to get touches. He worries about his scoring, but he can help this team a lot more than just scoring the basketball."

In Wednesday's win over the Atlanta Hawks, Bargnani was a monster on the boards with 11 rebounds and the Raptors' leading scorer.

The remedy

Triano was beginning to pull what little hair he has left out over his team's inability to secure a rebound. In back-to-back games prior to the Atlanta visit, the Raps had been outscored a combined 41-18 in second-chance points in the two games.

So, Triano and his coaching staff started running a drill that emphasized both the need to box out and secure rebounds for the five defending Raptors in the drill and the need to be aggressive going for offensive rebounds for the five playing offence.

"We only play in the half- court right now because we want to try and save our legs going up and down," Triano said of the drill.

"What that means is you don't have to get back on defence so all five go (after the rebound) and what that will do is make us more aggressive but it also teaches us that you better box out because all five are going and if you want to change possessions you better get the ball. If they want to stay on offence, they better get on the glass and if you want to get on offence you better box out."

Triano and his staff used the drill in the two days between the loss in Portland and the win against Atlanta.

In the Atlanta game, the Raps had 16 second-chance points to the Hawks six.

Defender in waiting

Antoine Wright has the stopper label among the Raptors reserves, but the veteran sees pretty good things in Sonny Weems' future if he embraces a defensive role in the same manner.

"I think he is learning to get it in practice," Wright said. "In practice, he is taking the challenge. Part of it is I talk so much trash, they want to stop me in practice. But that's the way you compete and make yourself a competitor. Sometimes, to get a young guy going, you have to talk a little trash to him.

"Now, I think Sonny is starting to understand that, with his athletic ability, he can be a hell of a defender if he'll just home in and focus on what's on the board, what he has to do as far as the game plan and then use his speed and quickness."


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