New Leader, Same Results

By Tonya Raymond
Updated: December 9, 2008

Toronto Raptors TORONTO — The Raptors’ blues continued Sunday as they suffered yet another loss, this time at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers 97-98.

What was only a two-week stretch seemed like an entirety if you were remotely connected to Toronto.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz all benefited from a very frazzled and out of sync NBA team. However, nothing was more shocking than watching the Raptors record one of their worst games in franchise history with a 39-point loss against Denver.

It was as if we were watching a sinking ship and before you knew it, the captain, head coach Sam Mitchell was forced to walk the plank. Now under the direction of interim head coach, Jay Triano, Toronto hoped they could put those unforgivable yet unforgettable days in the west behind them with a win against Portland.

In the first quarter, Toronto quickly sprung out to a 16-point lead over Portland. Each Raptor got their moment to shine and scored including an impressive Joey Graham. Not making huge mistakes, Graham was able to capitalize on Portland’s turnovers all the way to the basket scoring 15 points.

Jermaine O’Neal also had an impressive night, scoring a season-high of 24. The Raptors looked as if they were cruising to a W but were unable to do so due to the hot hands of Portland’s Steve Blake.

Blake, who scored 19 points, blazed the Air Canada Center arena with five treys including one with seconds left in regulation. Down by only one point, Chris Bosh was unable to make a running lay-up which resulted in another loss for his team.

“We gave up too many second point chances for sure and I can’t point a finger at any one of our guys. Every one of our guys were battling and tapping… who can we blame for a missed box-out? There’s nobody,” said coach Triano.

The Raptors did battle however they gave up 20-second chance points to Portland which ultimately cost them the promising win.

“We got out rebounded. We know we’ve got to get better at rebounding. We gave them a lot of second chance points especially late in the game so we’ve just got to do better,” said Bosh.

Despite the rebounding situation which they still have to address, O’Neal feels his team is on the road to victory. “Our strategy has changed and guys looked a lot better than they did in Utah… We’re going to keep working and get this thing turned around,” O’Neal added.

Despite the end result, the Raptors did come to play at the ACC. They clearly showed they have a team that is willing to compete and can have some type of defensive presence.

Sure, there are still a number of things coach Triano has to work out. But if he can get the same energy and determination from the Raptors as they showed against Portland, he just might survive the terrible coaches plague that seems to be around the NBA as of late and get his team back on the win column.