Another ugly game

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

Bad teams find ways to lose.

The Raptors, a bad team by any definition, did everything in their power to lose down the stretch last night and the Indiana Pacers capitalized.

With Jalen Rose missing a free throw, Morris Peterson missing a layup and Rafer Alston losing control of the ball on three consecutive possessions late in the fourth quarter, the Raptors let one slip away and lost 94-90 before 15,104 at the Air Canada Centre.

"We had the game ... the game was there for the taking," said Alston, who was having one of his better games of the season before his ill-timed turnover with 42 seconds left.

DIDN'T DELIVER

"We feel like we deserved some calls and didn't get some calls. But we can't always blame it on not getting calls. We've got to go out there and make the play. We're in position to either force overtime or win the game and we didn't deliver."

The Raptors (31-46), who were officially eliminated from playoff contention Saturday, blew an opportunity to beat a team over .500 for the first time since March 20. They led 90-87 with 1:54 to go, but didn't execute in crunch time.

"We were lucky to get out of here alive," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.

Despite their errors, the Raptors still had a couple of chances to win.

But Rose couldn't corral a key defensive rebound and Matt Bonner missed an open three that would have tied it with six seconds left.

The Raptors were unhappy with the officiating.

The Pacers went to the line 38 times and sank 31 freebies, while the Raptors were 9-for-14 from the charity stripe.

"It's hard to overcome when they almost shoot 40 free-throws and you shoot 14," said Rose, who led the Raptors with 26 points. "Obviously, they're a good team and they're going to the playoffs and that probably garners them a little respect."

Five games remain in the season, including one tonight in New York against the struggling Knicks.

"It hurts to go into all those arenas and see the playoff atmosphere building up," said Raptors forward Chris Bosh, who missed his first eight shots last night, but finished with 18 points. "The games are sold out and you can feel electricity in the arena. That's where I want to be and I thought we had a chance to get there this year. Another 365 days, that's a long time."

Bosh doesn't enjoy seeing all the empty seats at the ACC.

"It affects me," he said. "I want people to come see us play, but at the same time I know if we're not winning, not as many people are going to come."

Pacers star Reggie Miller, who will retire after this season, led his team with 19 points and moved into 12th on the NBA's career scoring list.

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell shuffled his starting lineup yet again, inserting forward Eric Williams for the first time since Jan. 28 and starting natural power forward Bosh at centre for the first time this season.

Bosh became the sixth Raptor to start at centre this season.


Videos

Photos