Rose prickly after loss

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Last night it was Jalen Rose's turn to be furious and frustrated.

Following the Raptors' 108-96 loss to the Orlando Magic, in which Toronto turned the ball over a season-high 24 times, the veteran swingman lit up the locker-room with a vague but vicious assault on some of his teammates.

"We don't play to win, we don't play together, we're just out there playing because it's on the schedule," Rose said. "A lot of our problems are self-inflicted. There are things that happen from the neck up on our team. They're not things I blame our coaching staff for. They're things I blame our players for.

"All of us have been guilty of this at one point or another, but it's frustrating and disappointing. I think it probably started at halftime in Seattle and it probably ended at halftime in Cleveland. From that, there has been a lot of individual play and that shows by our record."

The game in Seattle was one in which Rose was benched for the entire fourth quarter and afterward Raptors coach Sam Mitchell threatened massive changes to the starting lineup.

Coincidentally, Rose didn't play at all in the fourth quarter last night, either.

The game in Cleveland was the one in which Mitchell and point guard Rafer Alston had a heated confrontation at halftime, and Alston remained in the locker-room during the second half.

'MEANT WHAT I SAID'

"I meant what I said, that's exactly what I mean," Rose said when asked to be more specific. "I'm just saying, if I'm looking for individual pillars of situations that happened in our season, I mean, in our locker-room, the culmination from being a 15-man team to trying to pacify certain individuals or situations happened in those two instances.

"I've never been a part of anything like this. Obviously, when you have a record like we have, it's not all just basketball, trust me."

On Tuesday, Mitchell and Morris Peterson were ejected in the dying minutes of what turned out to be a 12-point loss to the Miami Heat. But Rose said the Raptors' sluggish performance last night had nothing to do with fatigue or an emotional hangover.

"It has nothing to do with the Heat, it has nothing to do with any of that," Rose said. "It has to do with playing to win, respecting the guys one through 15, and going out and sacrificing and being willing to do what it takes to win the ball game. Obviously that's something you learn how to do. Some guys learn it, some guys never learn it."

The Raptors dropped to 29-42 with the loss, while the Magic -- which is trying to stay within striking distance of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference -- improved to 34-37.

Alston, who led the Raptors with 17 points and arguably was the main target of Rose's tirade, expressed chagrin over the club's lack of rhythm.

"You start making careless mistakes and you take the little things for granted, not boxing out, not going after the loose ball, Alston said. "Instead of making the easy play we were trying to make the fantastic play."

There weren't many of those.

Chris Bosh (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Peterson (15 points, 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles for Toronto.

Grant Hill was the top scorer for Orlando with 21 points.

Rookie Rafael Araujo was back in the Raptors' starting lineup but he played only 11 minutes, collecting zero points and four rebounds.

The Raptors are 1-3 thus far on their five-game trip and will wrap it up tomorrow night against the expansion Charlotte Bobcats.

"Are we going forward or are we going backward?" Rose summed up. "That remains to be seen."


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