Comeback highlights defensive deficiencies

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:04 AM ET

Saturday’s 25-point comeback win over the Detroit Pistons was an achievement to savour for sure for the Raptors, but it also glossed over the fact that the club is not playing well in certain areas.

Most notably, the Raptors have not been good defensively this season, have shown an alarming inability to take care of the ball of late and aredesperately searching for consistency from the small forward spot.

Perhaps a partial solution to some of those problems could be more minutes for Julian Wright.

With Sonny Weems having turned in awful performances in four of his past five outings and with Linas Kleiza running hot and cold as well, Wright, arguably the best defensive player on Toronto’s roster, might be an ideal card for head coach Jay Triano to play.

Triano was pleased with Wright’s four-steal effort against the Pistons.

“Those guys (Wright and Joey Dorsey) practise (hard) every day and I threw them in the game and they brought an intensity, and that intensity becomes infectious,” Triano said.

Wright is limited offensively, but as Triano has repeated often this season, offence is not Toronto’s problem (Toronto is 13th in the league in offensive rating, but just 25th in defensive rating).

Wright’s length and athleticism improves the team’s ability to defend on the perimeter and beyond.

Kleiza struggled through a 16-for-44 shooting slump before going 15-for-22 the past two games.

“We knew (a Kleiza breakout) was going to happen,” Triano said.

“We knew he was struggling and his confidence was down but I played him quite a bit in New York and I didn’t think he played well (3-for-11 from the field)... Sometimes when you play a guy through the tough times like that, he’ll bounce back. I think he had a little something to show Denver (in a 26 -point, 12-rebound performance) and he was very good.”

Kleiza was quiet early against Detroit as the Raptors fell into a massive hole, but came alive with 11 points in the second half.

Triano would like to see the whole team pick up its effort at the defensive end.

“You’ve got to play at both ends of the floor if you’re going to be successful,” Triano said before the game in Detroit.

When we finally, collectively make ourselves more accountable at the defensive end of the floor and I do as a coach, then we will start winning more basketball games.”

Wright agreed with his coach.

“We can’t let our offence dictate our defence,” Wright said.

“We can score, we just have to get stops.”


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