Raps streak is short-lived

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- One night after riding the hot hand of Vince Carter, the Raptors went stone cold in a game that yet again exposed the team's many flaws. Carter's return to the lineup, and his return to his early season prowess, ended a miserable nine-game losing streak Tuesday night in Miami.

With the scene shifting to the MCI Center, the Raptors needed everyone to step up. When they got no one, including Carter, to elevate their game, they returned to their losing ways, meekly falling 84-70 to the host Wizards.

Outside of an 18-11 lead they forged in the opening period, the Raptors played with little force and seemed incapable of fighting through the fatigue of playing back-to-back.

They had absolutely no answer for Gilbert Arenas, whose game-high 27 points led Washington.

The Wizards figuratively pounded the Raptors into submission, outrebounding the visitors 61-38.

The 61 rebounds allowed were the most in Raptors history in a regulation game.

It was that one-sided. Be it in the backcourt or in the frontcourt, the Wizards manhandled the Raptors, who dropped to 26-35 with the New York Knicks coming to town tomorrow in what is shaping up as a very huge matchup.

"I thought we gave in,'' Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill said. "We struggled to get solid play from really anybody."

Carter ended the evening with 16 points but he couldn't take over like he did against the Heat.

None of the ball movement, sharing of the basketball or the contesting of shots were evident against a dangerous Wizards team that improved to 20-39.

"They took it at as in all aspects,'' said Donyell Marshall, who led the Raptors with 22 points.

Milt Palacio continues to struggle with his shot and went 0-for-6 from the field in 30 minutes. Roger Mason Jr. and Jannero Pargo got a chance to play the point but neither distinguished himself.

Of the many needs the Raptors have to address, improved point play should top the list. Getting some post presence also will help.

Against the Wizards, the Raptors got nothing. Toronto was outscored 42-28 in the second half. Carter's ankle stiffened at halftime and he ended by missing his final six shots.

"It's disappointing,'' Palacio said of the team's effort and result. "Given what's at stake and us fighting for that sixth and seventh playoff spot, it's very disappointing.

"We had lapses and when you play back-to-back you have to be mentally strong and grind the game out."

In a move you could see coming, Morris Peterson was pulled from the starting unit in favour of Dion Glover, who joined the team last Saturday.

"These are tough times for us,'' Marshall said. "We have to keep fighting and show how strong we are."

Last night, all the Raptors did was show just how soft and vulnerable they can be.


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