Presto, Raps vanish

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Jalen Rose hit a three-pointer with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter yesterday, putting the Raptors ahead by nine and seemingly putting the nail in the Washington Wizards' coffin.

But in the end, it was the Wiz who buried the Raps.

In one of the biggest choke jobs of the season, the Raptors dropped a 114-109 overtime decision to the Wizards at the Air Canada Centre, falling to an unsettling 6-9 with a six-game road swing beginning tomorrow night in Miami. The Raps have only won one of eight on the road this season.

Coach Sam Mitchell was weirdly calm after the loss, although he did spend a few minutes longer than usual with his troops in the dressing room -- perhaps reading his charges the riot act.

To hear Mitchell's comments after the game, you would have thought it was Kevin O'Neill from last season.

"We have to come out and play with some passion, some heart. We have to defend and we have to show some toughness," Mitchell said, a familiar refrain with this squad.

"We're not big enough, but that's not an excuse. We're just getting shoved around, pushed around. We're just letting guys go where they want."

The 16,121 fans on hand were stunned by the outcome.

After Rose's three-ball, Washington clawed back to make it 99-98 on a Gilbert Arenas jump shot with 39.4 seconds left.

Then, with 18.7 remaining, Larry Hughes, who led the Wizards with 33 points, fouled Toronto point guard Rafer Alston.

Unfortunately for the home side, Alston, who struggled for the second game in the row, went 1-of-2 from the line, putting the Raptors ahead 100-98. Hughes then went to the line with .8 seconds left after an Alston foul and forced the extra five-minute quarter by burying both of his attempts.

From there, the Wizards cruised, improving to 7-5 on the season. Hughes recorded his first career triple-double by adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He went to the free throw line 15 times, twice more than the entire Raptors team.

Rose had 29 for Toronto, plus six assists and six rebounds, while Vince Carter added 26 points. Another telling stat: The Raptors picked up 28 fouls while Washington had 15, three in the first half.

Mitchell was angry with the defensive effort of his team, and not thrilled with the officials either, although he managed to bite his tongue.

"What do you want me to say?" he said. "There's nothing I can say that won't get me in trouble."

Rose wasn't as diplomatic.

"I was disappointed with a couple of calls out there. They only had three in the first half and in NBA basketball that's almost impossible," he said.

Washington's Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison both picked up double-doubles. Haywood had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Jamison had 15 and 10. Donyell Marshall came off Toronto's bench to score 12 points and record seven rebounds.


Videos

Photos