Raptors fall just short

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

PORTLAND -- Go East, young men.

If the Raptors stay out West any longer, their record might get real ugly in a hurry.

Despite a glorious comeback attempt, the Raptors couldn't get it done in the bitter end.

The Raptors (13-26) erased a 17-point deficit and took the lead in the final minute, but lost 96-94 against the not-very-good Portland Trail Blazers last night at the Rose Garden.

A questionable foul on Morris Peterson led to a trip to the free-throw line for Juan Dixon, who appeared to trip over his own feet, with 21.6 seconds left. Randolph drained both shots and put the Blazers up 95-94. Mike James then missed a floater with about three seconds left, but Viktor Khryapa made only one foul shot with 2.0 seconds left to leave the door open.

However, Chris Bosh's three-pointer at the buzzer fell short.

The Raptors took a one-point lead with less than one minute left on a turnaround jump hook by Bosh. Zach Randolph put the Blazers back up with a tip-in, but Bosh then made an incredibly tough shot while falling backward from just underneath the net.

That's 13 losses in a row on the West Coast (two or more time zones away) for the Raptors, who are 2-13 against Western Conference teams this season.

The Raptors turned the ball over 18 times for the game and took a franchise-low 60 field-goal attempts.

For the second game in a row to open this five-game trip, the Raptors fell apart in the third quarter.

The Blazers (14-24), without top sixth man Ruben Patterson, who sat out with bronchitis, pulled away in the third quarter, extending a three-point halftime lead to 13. The Raptors made only three field goals in the third quarter. A similar scene transpired Tuesday night in Utah when the Raptors struggled badly in the third quarter and lost 111-98.

The good news for the Raptors is that these games start late back home, so the already low television numbers will be even lower. And, oh yeah, with the loss, the Raptors stayed ahead of the Blazers in the race for more ping pong balls in the draft lottery.

Jalen Rose had a big game off the bench, scoring 23 points. Bosh scored 22 and James returned to solid form, scoring 17 and adding seven assists. Randolph led the way for the Blazers with 22 points.

Incredibly, the Raptors actually trailed 52-49 after shooting 67.9% in the first half. The 11 turnovers loomed large in that deficit as the Blazers turned many of those into easy points.

But it's hard to argue with the shooting percentage. The Raptors had 14 assists in the first half, one more than they had in the entire game against Utah.

Bosh didn't play much for nine minutes of the first half as Mitchell opted to give him a a rest.

The Raptors' trip continues tomorrow night in Seattle against the Sonics.


Videos

Photos