Daily Raptor Dish - 05.12.10
Raptors' Bargnani big on the boards
Raptors are a work in progress
Bargnani said it’s just a matter of doing what he has to do with Evans out.
“I don’t really think about it,” Bargnani said. “We all know Reggie is out so everybody has to rebound the ball and that’s about it.”
In the three games since Evans was hurt, Bargnani is averaging nine rebounds a night, up substantially from the 5.6 he is averaging for the year.
Bargnani said part of it is a more aggressive attitude he has this year, something he has to maintain if he’s going to remain the Raptors No. 1 option on offence.
Hard work paying off for surprising Raptors
Triano was asked specifically if there were any disappointments at this stage in the season.
“No, not really,” he said. “I obviously would like to be able to shoot the ball a lot better. I think our offensive production was probably a little bit higher last season but it’s starting to come. It’s guys becoming more familiar with each other. Two of our main scorers are (Leandro) Barbosa and (Linas) Kleiza and they were not here last year. I think those are the two guys that can score off the bench.”
As a team, the Raptors are shooting just over 46% and sit 12th in the NBA. Last season they shot just over 48% and were sixth overall.
But riding a two-game winning streak and having won six of their past eight, Triano says he is seeing a lot of encouraging signs.
“I’m happy with where Kleiza is this week, a lot more than I was a week ago,” Triano said. “I think he is starting to come. That’s me getting to know him a little bit too. His production in different games is going to be based on matchups and what we have and whether he is going to be a (small forward) or (power forward). To be fair to him, we have had him all over the map. It’s what we have asked him to do and he’s willing and capable.”
Through 19 games last year, the Raps were actually
Toronto vs. New York
With the Raptors nearly a quarter of the way through the NBA season — they play game No. 20 of 82 at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon against the New York Knicks — they have been, for the most part, a pleasant surprise to many.
Thought to be in for one of the most difficult seasons in years, they have an 8-11 record, one game better than where they were a year ago at this point, and have shown the makings of a team growing together.
“Still a work in progress, really,” said coach Jay Triano. “I think we’ve showed a lot of real positive signs.”
A look at the first quarter:
Surprise! Amar'e Stoudemire's Knicks are more impressive than LeBron James' Heat
Toronto had taken 11 of 12 from New York on its home court before losing 98-93 on Oct. 27. Stoudemire, who is averaging 23.3 points against the Raptors over his career, scored 19 and registered 10 rebounds.
Stoudemire has won his last 10 games against Toronto - the first nine with Phoenix.
Unlike the Knicks, Toronto (8-11) has been much better at home, where it has won five of six, including an impressive win over Oklahoma City on Friday night.
The Raptors, who had yet to record a home victory when trailing at halftime, went into the break down by seven. After holding the Thunder to 36 percent shooting over the final 24 minutes, though, they won 111-99.
"It was just a very good defensive effort," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "They had 40 points in the second half and I thought that was really good for us."
Andrea Bargnani, who leads the team with 20.9 points per game, scored 26 and recorded a season-high 12 rebounds.
Bargnani has averaged 19.5 points against the Knicks at home over his career, 5.4 more than his career average.
Toronto has seven players averaging at least 10.0 points, and with a 6-2 record over its last eight games, is optimistic about its recent success.
"We gotta believe," said Sonny Weems, who is second on the team with 12.7 points. "We're a pretty good team. Even though we might not have the superstars that everybody else has, we're a good team."
Toronto's Peja Stojakovic, who has averaged 20.4 points versus the Knicks, has missed three straight games with a knee injury and his status for this one is uncertain.
Nobody saw this coming. Sometimes you don't see good stories coming in sports, they just happen. But here is the story on the NBA season so far: Amar'e Stoudemire has opened better in New York, a lot better, than LeBron James has in Miami. Opened so much better it's not even close.
James has Dwyane Wade with him, and Chris Bosh. Stoudemire does not. No matter. He's played better than LeBron has. And is having a lot more fun. A lot of things were supposed to happen over the first 20 games of the NBA season. Not that.
It will always be a fact that the Knicks were offering Stoudemire more money, and more years, than anybody else was going to offer him. The Knicks had wasted seasons clearing cap space, they had money to spend and they were going to spend it on somebody. And there Amar'e Stoudemire was.
They gave him nearly $100 million and at the time, they probably did think he gave them their best shot at LeBron, even if the Knicks never had a shot at LeBron, the big-talk geniuses representing him had fallen in love with the idea of him going to South Beach.