Raptors management had insisted the club was not going to tank games down the stretch.
Last night the difference was subtle.
The Raptors took playing out the string to a new level with a 104-74 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies before an angry crowd of 14,964 at the Air Canada Centre.
Even by Raptors standards, this was bad stuff. They were down by 30 points -- get this -- before the half. It was the Raptors' most lopsided loss of the season and represented a season-low in points scored.
But the most interesting statistic was the 47 minutes played by Raptors sophomore forward and emerging marquee player Chris Bosh. Coach Sam Mitchell insisted playing his star for every minute but one in a blowout was not meant as a punishment, but as a learning opportunity, albeit a painful one.
"I wasn't mad at him," Mitchell said. "Sometimes you learn more when you're getting embarrassed. I'm not dumping on him. I told him what I was going to do.
"It's not a meaningless game. It may be in your mind, but it's not in my mind, because I'm trying to get Chris somewhere. Yes, he could get hurt, but he also may learn something."
Bosh, who had another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, was visibly weary after the game, but said he understood Mitchell's thinking.
"Most guys in that situation would ask to come out of the game, but I think the coaches wanted to see if I would quit," Bosh said. "There's no quit in me.
"I knew the coaches weren't going to take me out. One day in the future I'll be the man here and they want me to learn from experiences like this. I have to be ready to pick everybody up, no matter what happens. We got down early but we should have kept fighting."
And just when you think the news couldn't get any worse for the Raptors, forward Donyell Marshall left the game in the second quarter with what initially was diagnosed as a strained right Achilles tendon. However, Marshall said that he had "felt a pop," and he'll have an MRI today.
Coincidentally, Marshall had started only his second game of the season.
Jalen Rose led the Raptors with 19 points. Top man for the Grizzlies, who registered their biggest road win since moving to Memphis from Vancouver, was Pao Gasol with 26 points.
The Raptors' record dropped to 30-44, while the Grizzlies improved to 42-32.
The Raptors had a horrible first quarter, getting outscored 32-19. But then they got outscored by the exact same margin in the second quarter and the boos started to rain down from the upper regions of the arena.
Rookie Rafael Araujo replaced Marshall with the starters at the beginning of the second half. After Araujo committed a hard foul on the Grizzlies' Lorenzen Wright, a furious Wright screamed, "I'm going to f--- you up!" at Araujo, who already had his back turned and was walking toward the bench.
Wright was given a technical foul for his, uh, aggressiveness. If only the Raptors could have earned a few technical fouls for similar crimes of passion.
On Tuesday injured Raptors guard Alvin Williams raised eyebrows when he expressed his frustration with the club's lack of leaders and perpetual rebuilding process. The game last night went a long way toward confirming Williams' greatest fears.