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  Sat, December 27, 2003


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Glaring errors do in Raptors
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

SALT LAKE CITY -- Vince Carter was just another anonymous Toronto mall rat in the days leading up to Christmas. Well, not quite anonymous. "I surprised a lot of people, I think," the Raptors guard said. "But this year I actually got out, so it was pretty neat. I was in and out of malls, stores, everything. Holt Renfrew, William Ashley, everywhere."

You'll notice places like the Dollar Store, Wal-Mart and Zellers weren't on Carter's go-to list. The concept of the lowest price being the law likely isn't important to him.

What is important to Carter is that both he personally and the Raptors as a group try to regain their focus now that the distractions of the holiday season are over. But that mission got off to a heartbreaking start last night as the Raptors fell 97-94 in overtime to the Utah Jazz before a snow-blind crowd of 19,639 at the Delta Center.

"Hopefully this will p--- us off and we'll play better in the next two games of this trip," said Carter, who scored a game-high 30 points. The Raptors certainly seemed angry in the post-game locker room, but anger alone won't necessarily translate into better play.

Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill thought his team did a few good things, but he lamented some glaring breakdowns.

"Our defensive execution in crunch-time situations is not very good," O'Neill said.

The game was close all night, but the Raptors were lucky to get to overtime, as they trailed by five points with fewer than five seconds to go in the fourth.

After three Alvin Williams free-throws, a key steal by Milt Palacio gave the visitors another possession. They tied the score on an unlikely unguarded layup by Carter just before the buzzer. He had squirted free after Utah's Andrei Kirilenko moved up to double-team Donyell Marshall, who fed Carter under the basket.

"I went to North Carolina, so I know the game is never over," Carter said.

But the Raptors had no rabbits to pull out of their hats in OT. A long-range three-pointer by Jalen Rose just before time expired was well off the mark.

It was the first game this season the Raptors have lost when leading after three quarters.

The Raptors, 14-14, have dropped six of their past seven games, while the Jazz got a team-high 19 points from Raja Bell and improved to 16-13.

The undersized Raptors tied a team record by collecting only three offensive rebounds. Overall, they were outrebounded 48-33.

"I don't feel undersized," Raptors rookie Chris Bosh said with a snort. "It's all about how hard you're playing and how much heart you have."

Heading into the game, Carter still was mad at himself for the way he had played last Sunday in a loss to Orlando. It was somewhat understandable, since the day before Carter had to fly south for the funeral of a close family friend.

"I wasn't as focused as I should have been and I knew that," Carter said. "I kind of let it get to me."

Carter was on fire early on last night, scoring 15 first-quarter points on 5-for-6 shooting. He couldn't maintain that pace, obviously, but it was easy to tell this was a game he really wanted to win.

The Raptors originally were going to practise in Los Angeles today in preparation for their game tomorrow against the Clippers. However, the Raptors stayed overnight in Salt Lake City not because of the blizzard that had blanketed much of Utah, but because of a problem with their designated practice site in L.A. The Raptors will practise in Salt Lake City today before flying west.

They likely didn't sleep very well last night.

"We have to rededicate ourselves and recommit ourselves to the philosophy K.O. wants us to run," Carter said.

"Either we do that or we're just going to continue to lose."









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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