Wash-ed away

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell spent almost as much time pleading with and yelling at the officials last night as he did directing his players. But, you know what? Mitchell could have used a bull horn from the sidelines and it wouldn't have mattered. Any advice he offered to his guys or the officials fell on deaf ears anyway.

The injury-plagued Washington Wizards, who were without standouts Larry Hughes and Kwame Brown, hammered the Raptors 118-109 at the MCI Center despite a late charge by the visiting squad, although it's easy to play loosey-goosey when you're trailing the entire game.

The Raptors trailed by as many as 29 points in the first half and played defence as if ... actually they played very little in the way of defence at all.

"We started the game with no energy. It was like we had the bewildered look on our faces and they jumped on us," Mitchell said. "This was not a good night, but I'm proud of my guys. They played hard, they didn't quit. The thing I'm most proud of, they stayed together."

The Raptors were pumped about snapping an 11-game road losing streak on Monday in Minneapolis. But after the loss yesterday, their road mark dropped to a 3-19. Coming into the game, Toronto, now 17-24, had won three in a row, and eight of 10.

The Raptors dug themselves into a big hole to start the game. The Wizards opened with an 11-2 lead and Toronto did not score from the field until a Chris Bosh dunk at 7:16. Toronto shot 5-for-20 in the quarter and trailed 35-20, the second-most first-quarter points given up this year.

Washington led 65-42 at the intermission, a season-high for the Wizards in the first half.

"But no one was pointing fingers," Mitchell said of his team's charge in the second half. "They were all talking about if we could just cut it to 10 by the fourth quarter."

But it was too little, too late. Jalen Rose continued his strong play as a reserve, leading the Raptors with 32 points, a season high and franchise record for most points off the bench. He also had six assists and five boards. Bosh contributed 16 points and eight rebounds, but was unable to continue his consecutive double-double streak, which ended at nine games. Morris Peterson had 18 points and nine boards while Rafer Alston contributed 20 points for Toronto.

The Washington attack was led by forward Antawn Jamison with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Juan Dixon had 26 off the bench for the 23-15 Wizards.

"I feel like any time you come into a hostile environment like we were in and playing a team that had their butts handed to them real good in their last game, they were charged up and ready to play," Rose said of Washington's early dominance. "And once they got up to that good start, it snowballed and it was too hard for us to catch up."


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