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  Mon, February 23, 2004


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The Last Word
The Raptors have lost five in a row, and with a depleted roster due to injuries and infighting, a playoff spot may be lost as well.

By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

So maybe it wasn't all Lamond Murray's fault.

Okay, we know we're being insensitive about a situation that is uncomfortable for the Raptors hierarchy and maddening for Murray, the veteran forward who yesterday served a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.

In the absence of Murray, as well as the injured Vince Carter and Jalen Rose, all the conduct detrimental to the Raptors yesterday occurred in the second half. Some if it was self-inflicted, some of it had to do with the opposition, but the end result was a 96-81 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

"These were going to be tough games (against powers such as the Kings and New Jersey Nets) even with Jalen and Vince," said Raptors forward Michael Curry, whose club has lost five games in a row. "But you keep battling. You try to get about 42 minutes of very good basketball (out of 48). That normally can get you a win. Right now, we're playing about 36 minutes."

It was more like 24 yesterday. But who's counting?

Considering the Kings are 40-14 and the Raptors are 25-30, the final score wasn't stupefying. But in a way it was a lost opportunity for the Raptors, since the Kings were missing three key components (Brad Miller, Bobby Jackson and Chris Webber) and played the first half as if their minds already had boarded the flight home.

"It almost was like we expected to win," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "But I don't think we were on the ropes."

Easy to say in hindsight.

Donyell Marshall's assessment was that his Raptors put their "heads down" when the Kings made their second-half run, but it didn't look that way. Rather, the Raptors seemed rattled and overwhelmed as what had been a nine-point lead became a 19-point deficit.

"It is hard to play a perfect game," Raptors guard Morris Peterson said. "It's frustrating not having all your weapons. But we've been there, done that. We've gone through times where we haven't had Vince for long stretches."

The Raptors have chosen to be without Murray for long stretches this season, which is what led to his criticism of Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill after a loss to the Nets on Friday. Murray started the game but was yanked after six ineffective minutes, and he subsequently claimed he had been set up to fail by O'Neill. The suspension was announced on Saturday.

Murray's words alone probably weren't enough to get him suspended, if you consider ex-Raptor Charles Oakley went unpenalized for all the inflammatory things he used to say about general manager Glen Grunwald. Heck, one time Oak said, "Pimpin' ain't easy, pimpin' ain't dead, the ho's are just scared," and while we never had any idea what it meant, there had to be something suspendable in there, didn't there?

Regardless, the scuttlebutt is that Murray's lackadaisical approach and attitude in the hours before tipoff on Friday gave him a very short leash once the game began. And let's be honest, this has been simmering for a while.

Most of Murray's comments could be attributed to frustration, and we've heard similar complaints from irked players a thousand times. But one of Murray's assertions -- that he and O'Neill don't communicate and have no realtionship, good or bad -- stood out. If true, that's not healthy.

"That's (Murray's) opinion," O'Neill said in response yesterday. "I've been professional with all our guys, I think, top to bottom. Naturally, you have more interaction with players who play more. I understand him feeling like that. It's unfortunate, but that's kind of the way it is."

Coincidentally, that last sentence could be used to describe the state of the Raptors right now.

And as each day passes, it becomes increasingly likely that the Raptors will be, well, "suspended" from post-season play.









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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