Raps make, are history

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

The Raptors made international headlines yesterday, but the players will not be putting the press clippings in their scrapbooks.

For only the second time in 28 sanctioned exhibition games against international competition and the first time on an NBA home court, an NBA team -- the Raptors -- has come out on the losing end.

Two-time defending European champion Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel beat the struggling Raptors 105-103 in front of an ecstatic pro-Maccabi crowd of 17,281 at the Air Canada Centre, dropping Toronto to 0-3 in pre-season play.

With the game tied at 103-103, ex-NBAer Anthony Parker hit a 15-foot fadeaway jump shot with 0.8 seconds left to give Maccabi an improbable victory in front of a gathering that included NBA commissioner David Stern.

"To lose is unacceptable," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "But to say 'to lose to a team like that' would be disrespecting them. I would look like an idiot to stand up here and disrespect a team that just beat us."

The previous international squad to beat an NBA team was the Soviet national team, which won 132-123 over the Atlanta Hawks in Moscow in 1988. Maccabi Tel Aviv beat the then-defending champion Washington Bullets 98-97 in a non-sanctioned game in 1978.

The Raptors were playing their third international opponent. The beat Benetton Treviso of Italy 86-83 last season and Panathinaikos of Greece 100-76 in 2003.

THROWN AWAY

In a home game that felt like a road game, the Raptors spit up a 14-point third-quarter lead, marking the second game in a row they have thrown away a double-digit advantage. Coming off a game in which they put the Boston Celtics on the foul line 60 times, the Raptors allowed Maccabi to shoot 42 free throws, 14 more than Toronto.

"They showed they wanted it more than we did," said Raptors forward Chris Bosh, who scored a game-high 27 points. "We came out and executed well early. We just got away from doing the things that got us the big lead in the first half. Every loss is a difficult loss to me. In a situation like this, we know we had chance after chance to put them away. It really is irritating."

Mitchell did everything he could to avoid a newsworthy loss, re-inserting his go-to guys in place of younger players in crunch time and playing Bosh 45 minutes. But Mitchell didn't use either of his foul-prone centres -- Loren Woods or Rafael Araujo -- down the stretch, making it all the more clear this team does not have a legitimate starting centre. The best centre on the court, by far, was Maccabi's Nikola Vujcic, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds.

"I'd be lying to say we didn't want to win this game. I'd be lying to say we didn't come out to win this game," Raptors forward Jalen Rose said.

"But the reality is, it is pre-season and they played this game like it was their championship game and rightly so. Those guys are hungry for NBA jobs."

The Raptors play host to Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets Wednesday at the ACC.


Videos

Photos