There were more long faces in the Raptors locker room yesterday than you normally see inside the stables at Woodbine Racetrack.
The Raptors played tough against the powerhouse Los Angeles Clippers, and had victory in the palms of their hands on numerous occasions. However, missed shots at key times and a non-call late in the fourth quarter resulted in the experienced Clippers departing Toronto with a 115-113 victory after five minutes of overtime.
The loss, after an excellent affair which saw the lead change 37 times, ended a three-game win streak at home for Toronto.
"We played hard, well enough to win, rebounded, battled the best that we could," Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell said. "(But) I don't see any moral victories in professional sports. Those guys (the Clippers) made plays. They just kept making shots, big shots after big shots."
The Raptors held a three-point lead with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold on, and Chris Bosh, who finished the game with his 21st double-double of the season -- 29 points and 16 rebounds -- had a wide-open shot from the top of the key just before the buzzer in overtime. The shot missed from 18-feet out after hitting the rim.
"That's been a pretty consistent shot for me," said Bosh, who went 1-for-4 from the field in OT. "It felt good ... I just have to move on, keep going. We wanted to keep this winning streak going. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, but we can't let this loss get us down."
The other key play that killed the home side occurred with 7.8 seconds left in regulation time and the Raptors leading 100-98. The Clippers' Daniel Ewing fouled Raptors rookie Charlie Villanueva. With the 15,541 Air Canada Centre faithful holding their collective breath, knowing that two successful frees probably would give Toronto the win, Villanueva missed the first of two, and then hit the second for a three-, rather than a four- point lead.
On the next play, veteran L.A. guard Sam Cassell, who finished with 27 points and 13 assists, received the ball after an in-bounds play and nailed a three-pointer to force OT. Right after the basket, Toronto's Mike James, who wanted to get to Cassell, charged over to the referees, claiming he was grabbed by Elton Brand, who led all scorers with 30. But there was no call and the Clippers out-scored Toronto 14-12 in extra time for the win.
"Elton Brand hugged me, he treated me like he ain't seen me in years and just wrapped his arms around me and wouldn't let me go," James said. "I guess the referees weren't in position."
The Raptors had a foul to give on the play and the plan was for James to get to Cassell and foul him.
"We were going to take the foul and then take the next one, too," Mitchell said. "Make it a free-throw shooting contest."
As for Villanueva missing one of the free throws, Mitchell didn't really want to hear about it, adding that the rookie shouldn't be too upset about the miss.
"I hope he's not. Unless you all go write about it and go ask him 50,000 times," Mitchell told the media. "He missed a free throw. It happens."
Morris Peterson had 25 for the Raptors, whose next action comes on Wednesday when they play host to the San Antonio Spurs.