Raptors left seeing stars

Jalen Rose of the Raptors has a rough go of it as he heads up court against the Wizards last night....

Jalen Rose of the Raptors has a rough go of it as he heads up court against the Wizards last night. Rose had 20 points to lead Toronto but missed a three-pointer at the buzzer. (Toronto Sun/Ernest Doroszuk)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

The Washington Wizards, an outfit formerly known as the Bullets, had too much ammunition for the Raptors last night in the regular-season opener.

Riding big games by veterans Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood, Gilbert Arenas, and Jarvis Hayes off the bench, the Wizards held on to defeat the Raptors 99-96 in a nailbiter that electrified the 18,106 fans at the Air Canada Centre.

Toronto veteran Jalen Rose, who led the Raps with 20 points, almost forced overtime with 2.9 seconds remaining when he launched a 25-foot jump shot. Unfortunately for the home side, it missed.

"I take this loss upon myself," a solemn Rose said after the game. "This team needs me to make points in crucial opportunities and I didn't do that."

Rose did go 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter, but the loss certainly wasn't his fault. The Wizards just had too much depth for the young Raptors.

"Every week we're going to get better," Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell said. "Obviously our young guys need time to grow and learn how to play at this level. The most difficult thing is going to be to have patience."

The Raps actually won the rebound battle, 48-44, but shot 35% in the second half.

Referee Tony Brothers incurred the wrath of Raps' fans when he called a questionable offensive foul on Rose with 14.2 seconds on the clock and the Raptors trailing 97-96. As Rose made a move towards the basket, he bumped into man-mountain Haywood, who went down hard. Brothers called it a charge. Rose wasn't so sure.

"The reality is, when a 7-foot guy falls like he was shot with a gun, that doesn't usually warrant a call," Rose said.

The talk during pre-season has centered on the Raptors' three promising rookies, Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham and Jose Calderon, but a trio of wily veterans, including 21-year-old forward Chris Bosh, came up big for Toronto.

Bosh, who struggled during the pre-season, picked up a double-double on 17 points and 14 rebounds. Morris Peterson contributed 16 and four assists. Villanueva, off the bench, picked up 11 points and six rebounds.

Jamison led the Wizards with 29 points and nine boards. Arenas had 21, Hayes 17 and Haywood, the centre, also had a double-double, 10 points and 14 boards.

Mitchell started Graham with the idea that he would bring a defensive presence to the starting lineup. He also needed at least one veteran coming off the bench, in this case Peterson.

"Being a rookie, Joey's not looking for the ball that much," Mitchell said. "And I don't have to worry about getting Mo touches early to keep him going. So when go comes in with the second unit it may give the opportunity to get more looks."


Videos

Photos