The losing will end ... eventually

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Someday, in some arena in one of two grand countries, the Toronto Raptors will win a basketball game.

Perhaps as soon as Friday against the Utah Jazz, or Sunday against the Seattle Supersonics. Perhaps later.

It has been 202 days since April 18, 2005, the date of the Raptors' last regular-season win. And while it feels like it has been going on forever, the losing has got to end.

LOSERS

I'm almost certain.

The Raps now are 0-4, fully deserving losers to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night at the ACC by a score of 105-93. After an even first quarter, the Cavs outscored the Raps in each of the remaining three quarters.

Cleveland outrebounded the Raptors 47-30 and LeBron James' game-high 27 points was more than enough to do the job.

It's a loss that won't be soon forgotten, since some of the visuals of James blowing by a series of befuddled Raptors en route to the basket should be making the rounds of the late night sports shows for a while.

"We're just making mental mistakes that we're not good enough to recover from," coach Sam Mitchell said.

"Guys are getting breaks, like when LeBron James starts on the wing and we don't get there until we're in time to foul."

Mitchell sounds like a man talking himself through a 12-step program.

"The only thing I know, we've got two days of practice," he said. "We can't get frustrated. It's early in the season. We've got some young guys. We've got to continue to come out and work and go back to a training camp mentality."

I don't know.

They keep working harder and it only gets worse. How about not working hard, just once. Oh, wait, that was last game.

The solution, Mitchell said, is to dumb it down.

"Instead of ABC, we'll just simplify it to A and see if that works," he said.

Then Mitchell held his hands apart.

"We're coming out of timeouts and we're telling guys go stand right there," he said, gesturing to his left hand.

Then he looked at his right.

"And then they go stand right there."

The announced attendance of 18,281 was probably two or three thousand short of the mark, and there was a feeling about the arena of inevitable defeat.

Remember when Mitchell and general manager Mike Babcock spoke of growing pains? That would be now.

But there were some happy burps last night, energetic play from rookie guard Jose Calderon, a good night from Chris Bosh that included 26 points and 12 of the club's rebounds, a five minute stint from Rafael Araujo that included a basket and a hard foul on James and no one got hurt, and an efficient night turned in by guard Mike James.

They are better than the team of 202 days ago, are your Raptors, at least until you consider that previous team played with Donyell Marshall, now a splendid addition to the Cavaliers.

The Raptors are better with James on the point over Rafer Alston.

Better -- someday -- with Charlie Villanueva and James.

But not better with Aaron Williams and Matt Bonner and Eric Williams and poor Loren Woods at centre.

They can work as hard as they want.

Being unable to play takes many guises. Sometimes it's a physical lack, other times it's being unable to figure out how to help on defence.

STILL WAITING

"We don't want to give up points in the paint," Bosh said. "That's something that has hurt us. We said coming into the season, we had to make teams shoot contested jump shots.

"We have yet to do that."

Two-hundred and two days is a long time.

It can't go on much longer.

Really.


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