New low for Raps

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Sam Mitchell was like a mad man on the sidelines at the FedEx Forum last night. Of course, when your team shoots under 18% from the field and goes 0-for-9 from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter, it's pretty well time strait-jacket time.

The Raptors appeared to be in decent shape to win yesterday's hard-fought match against the overachieving Memphis Grizzlies, fighting back from a deficit situation for the most of the night to take a 67-63 lead with one quarter remaining.

But instead of coming up big in the final 12 minutes, the Raptors faded like a cheap T-shirt in hot, soapy water and fell to the Grizzlies, 86-75 -- the fewest points Toronto has scored all season.

With only 24 games remaining in the regular season, the 24-34 Raptors quickly are falling out of the playoff picture in the Atlantic Division.

"(Time) is something that we don't have right now," forward Chris Bosh acknowledged. "There are not many games left. We're playing hard, we're right there, we just have to get over the hump."

Mitchell said that mentally, his team was at its worst last night.

"Look at how many turnovers we had," he said. "We drive down the court and fall down and throw the ball out of bounds with no one around us."

The Grizzlies deserve a lot of credit for the win. Minus three of their best -- Pau Gasol, Bonzi Wells and Stromile Swift -- the host team demonstrated what hard-nosed basketball is all about, smothering the Raps on defence while sharing the ball almost to perfection. Toronto, which has two more games left on a four-game swing through the American south, needed a win last night to remain in the playoff picture.

The frustration boiled over for Toronto as Jalen Rose picked up a flagrant foul with 26 seconds left in the game, his second technical, and was tossed, but not before tossing his jersey into the stands. Rose, who led the Raptors with 19 points, wasn't impressed with the call.

"I was frustrated by the fact that I tried to grab a loose ball and Brian Cardinal flagrantly elbowed me in the head. Then I get a long rebound and I'm pushing the ball up the floor and Earl Watson just flat-out tripped me," he said.

The victory gave Memphis head coach Mike Fratello 600 career NBA wins. The Grizzlies got big games from forward Shane Battier, who had 33 points -- a career high -- and centre Lorenzen Wright, who had a double-double, 20 points and 15 rebounds.

The Raptors have to get a good road game out of small forward Morris Peterson one of these days if they want to make any kind of charge. Peterson played tough on defence, but his offence again went south. MoPete launched 11 shots from the field, hitting on only three. Bosh also had a sub-par performance with nine points and five boards. Donyell Marshall had 10 points and nine boards off the bench.


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