Memphis coach feels for Raptors

MIKE GANTER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

On more than one occasion this season, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell has repeated the phrase: "This is the NBA. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you."

He said it again last night after a truly abysmal 92-66 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies only this time those words didn't hold water.

Down the hall, minutes earlier Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello was not only feeling sorry for the Raptors but making excuses for the club. When the opposing coach starts making excuses for you, you know you've reached new depths.

Fratello began his post-game comments talking about his club's own stellar defensive effort but quickly switched into excuse-making mode for the woeful Raps.

"That team has played hard in a lot of games and lost a lot of heartbreakers," Fratello said. "Sometimes this happens to you. It happens to all teams. When you lose a tough one like they did against a terrific Dallas team the other night, it takes a lot of air out of you.

"It happened to us when we lost a heartbreaker to Boston and it came back and affected us very badly in our next game against Cleveland. We got blown out. We couldn't bounce back so it happens once in a while.

"You have to understand that overall they have played very hard and very tough. They are catching some tough breaks here. I think they will get it together and get on a roll, I really do."

From Fratello it was a nice gesture and he certainly sounded sincere, but it bordered on pity and as tough as things are right now for a 1-15 team, being pitied is akin to having salt rubbed in your open wounds.

Even Damon Stoudamire, who not so long ago wore these same Raptors colours, took little satisfaction in Memphis' total domination last night.

"Somehow, someway you have to change the culture," Stoudamire said of the Raptors situation. "This is the same thing that went on here eight years ago and the next year (actually two years later) I think they went to the playoffs so things can change overnight. It's just a matter of them figuring out who they want and who they don't want.

"I feel for them," Stoudamire said. "I know what it's like to lose that many. I've been there before. I know all about that."

Hard to imagine that's going to make any of the Raptors feel any better this morning.


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