Raptors can't hold it

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell pledged before last night's game that he was going to anchor himself to the bench more and not stand on the court and yell as much.

Mitchell either has a short memory or he enjoys feeding the media a lot of horse bleep.

The new Mitchell lasted for about two minutes in Toronto's 103-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last night at the Staples Center.

The emotional head coach was on his feet pretty much throughout the entire game, which was not surprising actually, given that the Raptors gave the Western Conference leading Clippers all they could handle in a hard-fought game -- the second in a back-for-back for Toronto.

It's tough to figure this Raptors team out. For most of the young season, the Raps started out slowly and staged late charges, which all fell short. The past two nights, in Phoenix and L.A., the club started off like a house on fire. Both times, it faded in the stretch.

Last night's loss was particularly heartbreaking. The Raptors led from the start until very late.

The Clippers' Corey Maggette hit a 26-foot jump shot with three minutes left to tie the game 96-96 and then power forward Elton Brand gave the home team its first lead of the game with two minutes left, 98-96. The clubs exchanged the lead in the last three minutes, when Raps' Mike James pulled in a rebound with 22.6 seconds left and Toronto down 100-99.

Mitchell called a time out. Morris Peterson then missed a 25-foot jump shot for the lead and Jalen Rose fouled. Maggette converted both with seven seconds left. Brand fouled James and the Toronto guard missed his first free and hit the second and the Raptors trailed by two with 5.5 on the clock.

Toronto purposely fouled and Maggette converted once, enough for the win.

"It's tough to lose any time," Mitchell said after the game. "But the encouraging things is we had a chance to beat a very good basketball team on the second game of a back-to- back. But for two nights in a row, we shot 37%, and you can't win if you shoot 37%."

Chris Bosh led Toronto with 24 points and nine rebounds. The third-year power forward, who had 23 against Phoenix, went to the line 13 times, making 10.

Rookie forward Charlie Villanueva had another strong game off the bench with 18 points and six boards.

Rose's struggles continued. The veteran swingman started off brutally, shooting 0-for-8 from the floor, managed just one point in 15 minutes in the first half and finished with six.

Maggette, with 30, and Sam Cassell led the charge for the Clippers. Cassell had 26 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Brand had a double-double for L.A., with 21 points and 13 boards.


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