INDIANAPOLIS — After allowing 116 points on 55.3% shooting to the NBA’s worst offensive team and scoring just 87 points on 33.7% from the floor the next night against the league’s shoddiest defensive outfit, what can the Raptors possibly do for an encore on Monday night?
According to head coach Jay Triano, adjustments by his top two players might be a good start.
The offensive games of leading scorers Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan have gone South of late and Triano believes they must respond to being keyed on.
“They’re learning how when teams focus on them, you need to be better than just the guy guarding you because there will be more emphasis placed on you and you’ll get the best defender more times,” Triano said after DeRozan and Bargnani shot 7-for-35 (20%) against a Minnesota team that had been letting opponents score at a 47% clip coming in.
That followed the duo’s 14-for-37 (37.8%) misfiring a night earlier against Milwaukee.
Bargnani’s 19 misses against the Wolves was a career-worst.
“We just took him out of his comfort zone,” said Wolves forward Kevin Love.
“He wanted to post up right on the block, but we pushed him out and he tried to back us down so we forced him into a lot of tough turnaround jump shots, a lot of fadeaways.”
Triano has told them to expect more of that treatment.
“Those guys are going to have to adapt to that and that’s part of the growth they are going to have to have as basketball players,” he said.
Triano believes Bargnani is out of sync and has lost his rhythm. The sullen centre did not disagree on Saturday.
“We shot the ball terrible, everybody,” Bargnani said.
Bargnani said Minnesota was not doing anything overly impressive defensively to provoke the disaster.
“Most of them were pretty good shots, wide open ... We went to the bucket, too. We missed layups, too,” he said.
Bargnani is used to being the focus now, it has been his role since Chris Bosh left town and he will have nights like these.
But, for DeRozan, this is all new.
And it’s extremely frustrating.
“Yes, the last two games teams have guarded me different,” DeRozan admitted.
“Just have to figure it out and things will come back around.
“It’s the NBA, everybody gets scouted (and that leads to teams playing) us differently. That’s what happens.”
Attempting to explain just what had changed, DeRozan said opponents are not letting him use screens as effectively as they were throughout his torrid January and the result has been less easy shot opportunities.
The next step in DeRozan’s evolution is to show he can respond to the new defensive looks he is facing by getting his shooting percentage up.
“I just have to figure it out and things will come back around,” DeRozan said.
The team will have to figure out how to stop losing.
The sting of 11 defeats in a row is being felt in the locker room.
“Everybody’s hurt and everybody’s upset that we’re losing. We don’t want to do this,” said Triano.
But the attitude remains at least a little optimistic.
“We’re bumped and we’re bruised but we’ve just got to keep going,” said the coach.
“Once we get that first win, I think we should be all right,” added DeRozan.
If he and Bargnani don’t start shooting straight soon though, that elusive victory could be a ways off.