Raptors stretched too thin

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:04 PM ET

When a game needs to be won at a time when posting a win is as elusive as fielding a healthy lineup, the Raptors’ options appear limited.

When the Grizzlies had possession deep in Monday’s visit, they put the ball in the hands of Rudy Gay and basically asked him to make a shot or make a play that leads to an open look.

Jay Triano insists it’s not difficult for his coaching staff to draw up a late-game play, but the difficulty lies in trying to keep opponents guessing.

One quick glance at Toronto’s depleted roster and it’s not hard to see that there’s two guys capable of winning a game — Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan.

One can debate whether the Raptors did enough to free up Bargnani, but there’s no debate when it comes to the lack of bona fide pieces Triano has to deal with.

“It’s not difficult,’’ the head coach said when asked about the challenges of drawing up a play late in a close game. “I find it difficult to disguise who we’re going to go to because our options are a little more restricted with guys being out of the lineup.”

Until DeRozan develops better handles and an ability to create for others, the only way to free up the second-year shooting guard is to have him come off screens.

Bargnani can take his man off the dribble, but when teams, much like Memphis did on Monday, put a smaller defender who can get up on Bargnani, it’s difficult for Toronto’s leading scorer to get off a shot.

A lot was said about Chris Bosh’s off-season move to Miami and the void he left behind in Toronto.

In his absence, there’s no dominant go-to guy, leaving Triano and his staff to be more creative, in theory, to come up with plays knowing full well an opponent can no longer key in on one guy.

But in the face of injuries, the Raptors have to face facts.

As hard as they try and as competitive as they’ve been at times lately, their execution down the stretch, at both ends, needs to be near flawless, which is pretty hard to do when dealing with a flawed roster.

No wonder the Raptors went 0-for-13 from beyond the three-point arc against Memphis when the likes of Jose Calderon, Linas Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa are unable to play.

Sonny Weems buried a three-ball that won a game in Orlando, but his wonky back limited him to eight minutes against Memphis.

As well as Jerryd Bayless starting for a flu-ridden Calderon, coming within two boards of a triple-double, the kid has a long way to go in being a true floor general.

These are learning times for this young group, a time that promises to bring more growing pains.


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