Close, but no cigar

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

SACRAMENTO -- In a game that resembled a gang fight at times, the Raptors were put in a choke hold late and lost another frustrating road contest.

For the second straight game, the Raptors led through most of the contest but lost again in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, this time a 106-104 defeat at the hands of the Sacramento Kings, at a very loud and intimidating Arco Arena, where there are more drunks per square metre than Oktoberfest.

The loss dropped Toronto to 1-12 and improved the Kings to 6-7. The Raps have yet to win on the road.

FRUSTRATING

"We have to learn, once we get a lead, we have to bury teams," forward Morris Peterson said.

"We should be 3-0 on this road trip, but we're 0-3. There are no moral victories here."

What particularly was frustrating was the Raptors shot 51% from the field and recorded a season-high 27 assists but still managed to lose.

Mental errors in the fourth and porous defence saw an eight-point lead with just over seven minutes left evaporate into another loss.

The Raps held a five-point led with just over four minutes left, but a series of missed shots by Mike James, Charlie Villanueva and Jalen Rose allowed the Kings to claw back to take a 102-100 lead with 2:49 on the clock when Mike Bibby hit a three-pointer. Chris Bosh nailed a 15-footer to tie the game at 102-102.

With 32 seconds left, the Kings' Bonzi Wells picked up an offensive rebound and was fouled by Peterson. He nailed both free throws for a 104-102 lead. Peterson then redeemed himself by collecting an offensive board of his own and a layup, tying the game with 21 on the clock. Wells scored on a six-foot jump shot with two clicks on the clock to give Sacramento the win. The slumping Rose launched a 26-foot jump shot for the win just before the buzzer, but the shot clanked off the rim.

Another bitter pill for coach Sam Mitchell.

"The last three games we basically beat ourselves," Mitchell said. "It's one thing when you get beat like that one time. It's another thing when it happens 3-4 times."

The game was high-scoring but also very chippy.

Starting forward Rafael Araujo, who scored 14 with six boards, went down hard clutching his left knee late in the second quarter after colliding with Brad Miller. He was back for the second half.

A couple of minutes after Araujo went down, Miller dragged down Peterson under the basket.

There was no call, but Peterson, who had 14 points and nine rebounds, dished it off to Bosh, who was fouled, and scored two to give Toronto a 48-46 lead.

Rookie Joey Graham then sent Shareef Abdur-Rahim to the floor when the Sacramento forward went up for the dunk.

Abdur-Rahim jumped up to challenge Graham, but cooler heads prevailed.


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