Raptors end the misery

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Thankfully, it's over.

In a carbon copy of last season, the Raptors ended another horrible campaign with an uninspiring 104-95 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers before a sellout crowd of 19,800 last night at the Air Canada Centre.

For the second season in a row, the Raptors finished with a record of 33-49.

For those counting at home, that is three non-playoff seasons in a row and seven early golf dates in the franchise's 10-year history.

"I'm so tired of losing, it's unreal," Raptors star sophomore Chris Bosh said. "I guess it's just a test of character."

In more bad news for Raptors fans, Vince Carter and his New Jersey Nets secured a playoff spot and knocked Le-Bron James and the Cavs out with a 102-93 win over the Boston Celtics last night.

It was easy to tell which team had something to play for last night at the ACC. The Cavs outrebounded the Raptors by a ridiculous 33-12 margin in the first half and led 62-47 after 24 minutes.

James, who scored 56 points in a loss in his previous game at the ACC, was one rebound away from recording a triple-double in the first half. He grabbed that board in the first minute of the second half. James scored a game-high 27 points and had 14 rebounds and 14 assists.

As for the Raptors, they stumbled and bumbled and showed why they do not belong in the playoffs. On one telling play, Bosh's pass to Aaron Williams slipped through the latter's hands and nailed a referee.

"Everybody should look in the mirror and say, 'Am I doing everything in order to make us a playoff team?' " Raptors forward Morris Peterson said.

In the notable statistic department, Raptors point guard Omar Cook, elevated from the NBDL recently, had three assists in his first three minutes of play night. Rafer Alston, the Raptors' shot-happy starting point guard, had just one assist.

Cook, by the way, has made a case for the Raptors to re-sign him. He was 9-for-14 with nine assists and 19 points in 31 minutes last night. On Tuesday, Cook had 10 assists in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity all year," Cook said. "I've been in the developmental league working my butt off to try to get to this point. Hopefully, something works out for me here."

This season turned ugly long before last night. Effective forward Donyell Marshall, who is expected to bolt when he becomes a free agent July 1, said all the Carter trade speculation took its toll on the Raptors.

"The month of December (when the Raptors were 3-12) killed us," Marshall said.

"That's when you didn't know if Vince was going to be here or wasn't going to be here. We lost a lot of games at that point and the team probably was not focusing on the game."

Throughout the game, taped messages from Raptors players appeared on the scoreboard, thanking fans for their support. Some of them said, "See you in October."

It will be interesting to see how many fans take the Raptors up on the offer.


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