Raptors left defenceless

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is questioning whether his team has good defenders.

Forward Chris Bosh is concerned about miscommunication on defence.

Point guard Rafer Alston is wondering whether starting the game down 20-0 would be a good idea.

Get the sense this is a team with some defensive issues?

The Raptors gave up more than 100 points for the fifth time in the past six games and lost 122-113 to the Dallas Mavericks before 17,896 at the Air Canada Centre.

"Maybe we're just not good defenders, overall," said Mitchell, who watched seven Mavericks reach double figures in scoring.

Once again, the Raptors dug themselves a huge hole -- a 25-point third-quarter deficit. But unlike the past two games, they did not deliver a miraculous come-from-behind victory. A late charge was halted when, with the Raptors down 115-111 and in possession of the ball, Bosh slipped and was called for travelling.

Defence, however, is the problem for the Raptors, who are giving up an average of 109.2 points the past six games.

"We work on defence every day. That's our practice," Mitchell said. "We don't even work on offence anymore. We're scoring enough points."

The Mavericks shot 60.3% from the field, a season-high for a Raptors opponent. Dirk Nowitzki, who made three consecutive tough shots to snap a Raptors run, finished with a game-high 30 points. Michael Finley also stepped up late, scoring 19 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.

More concerning, however, is the Raptors' habit of faltering out of the gate. They were outscored 32-24 in the first quarter yesterday, marking the ninth consecutive game they have not won an opening period.

"Call (NBA commissioner) David Stern," Alston said. "We'll start the game down 20 and then do the jump-tip and then let's play basketball."

Mitchell doesn't see changing the starting lineup -- perhaps removing ineffective rookie centre Rafael Araujo -- as the answer.

When asked whether he would consider that, Mitchell replied: "Don't make me say what I was just getting ready to say to you because they would put me in jail.

"Every time we do something, everyone wants to change the starting lineup. We scored 113 points. Why would you want to do that? To score 100."

Bosh, who scored a career-high 29 points, showed his frustration when asked about Mavericks forward Josh Howard.

"A couple of times, people were telling me I've got to send him to the middle. I send him to the middle -- dunk," Bosh said. "Stuff like that can't happen ... I'd rather give him a contested jump shot than force him one way and nobody is there to help me when they say they will."

The Raptors face the Cavaliers in Cleveland tomorrow.


Videos

Photos