'Forget the last play'

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

It did not matter that the struggling Jalen Rose finally was out of the starting lineup.

It did not matter that the small ball alternative worked pretty well for good chunks of the game.

For Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, all that mattered was one play, and not even the deciding buzzer-beating floater by Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry.

Mitchell, beyond frustration, could focus on only one thing after the NBA's worst team fell to 1-14 with a 93-91 loss last night before 15,789 at the Air Canada Centre -- the Raptors' inability to scoop up a loose ball for a key rebound down the stretch with Toronto up 89-83.

"We lost the game with (1:42 left). They missed the shot, the ball falls on the floor, we don't get a rebound, again, and they throw it out and hit a three," he said. "We get the rebound, different game. We're up six with (1:42) to go ... Forget the last play, the game should have never come to that."

The ensuing three by Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki keyed a 10-2 run to end the game for Dallas, allowing the visitors to erase a late six-point deficit. With two seconds left and the game tied at 91-91 after a long two by Matt Bonner knotted it, Marquis Daniels inbounded the ball to Terry, who hit the running floater at the buzzer. The loss was the Raptors' fifth in a row after an 0-4 Western trip.

Watching the last play from the bench was Rose, who was pulled from the starting lineup after shooting a woeful 34% from the field and averaging 11.9 points in his first 14 games. Mitchell started two point guards -- rookie Jose Calderon and Mike James.

Last season, the Raptors' highest-paid player wore all black (including black earrings) on the day he was removed from the starting rotation, but he didn't follow the same routine this time.

"During a bad season, Jalen Rose is not about to be the sideshow," said Rose, who scored seven points in a quiet 21 minutes. "If that's what you're all here waiting for, it's not about to happen."

However, it's not like the team's top scorer from last season was enthused about the demotion. He pointed out that other players also go through tough times and has the scoresheet from his zero-point game this season taped up in his dressing-room stall.

Rose played some of his best basketball in his 16-game stretch on the bench last season and Mitchell is hoping history will repeat itself.

"Last year when we did this, it kind of got him going a little bit," Mitchell said. "He's playing hard, he's trying to do the things we asked. But 14 games in, it just hasn't clicked."

With Calderon and James on the court together, the Raptors showed some fight and moved the ball well. Of course, it leads to matchup problems. The 6-foot-3 James ended some possessions trying to contest shots from the seven-foot Nowitzki.

Each point guard played a team-high 39 minutes. James had 22 points and Calderon, in his debut as a starter, had eight points and eight assists. Nowitzki scored a game-high 29 points for Dallas.


Videos

Photos