Rose speaks out

Toronto Raptors Jalen Rose reacts as the New Jersey Nets pull ahead during NBA action at the ACC...

Toronto Raptors Jalen Rose reacts as the New Jersey Nets pull ahead during NBA action at the ACC Friday. (SUN/David Lucas)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

The Raptors are a lot like Chris DeMarco's final two approach shots at the 18th hole of Augusta National one week ago. In crunch time, they come up short.

While visions of a playoff berth having already eroded, the Raptors could have at least salvaged some pride for themselves and won back some fans by spoiling Vince Carter's return to the Air Canada Centre Friday night.

But with the capacity crowd pleading for the home side to cruise to victory over the despised No. 15 of the New Jersey Nets, coach Sam Mitchell's team blew a big half-time lead en route to a heart-wrenching 101-90 loss to Vinsanity and co.

Now, with just three pretty much meaningless games remaining for the Raptors, the season's post-mortem already has started.

Who will stay? Who will go? What does this franchise need to do to shake off its three-year post-season absence?

Most importantly, what went wrong this season?

While most players were reluctant to answer that final question, perhaps the most revealing insight came from forward Jalen Rose, whose name was bandied about in plenty of rumours at the time of the trade deadline.

Rose refused to publically identify the organization's problems, but his words certainly suggested that there are plenty of woes that need to be fixed.

"Sometimes people can't handle the truth," Rose said after the Raptors morning workout yesterday. "I'm not ready to say it now. I've just got to be the guy who bites his tongue.

"A lot of these decisions ... splitting up the minutes, who (starts), those are not my decisions."

Rose vowed that the Raptors will not throw in the towel as they play out the string, beginning tonight when they host the Boston Celtics.

"We've got to bounce back," he said. "I just wish we would have played as hard as the fans did (Friday), sort of speak."

Among those who remain in limbo is injured forward Donyell Marshall, who likely will not see any more action this season. There are plenty of curious onlookers who wonder if the pending free agent comes back next season, but even he claims he doesn't know.

Mitchell hopes to sit down with Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Limited president Richard Peddie, chairman Larry Tanenbaum and general manager Rob Babcock at the conclusion of the schedule and present them with his wish list for 2005-06.


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