Raps tripped up again

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

MIAMI -- The Raptors introduced themselves to Bryan Colangelo with a trademark performance.

On the eve of the introduction of the team's new president and general manager, the Raptors stayed close with yet another strong opponent before going down to defeat again.

The Raptors completed a five-game trip with their fourth consecutive loss, dropping a 101-94 decision against the Miami Heat last night at American Airlines Arena.

Colangelo wakes up this morning with a team that has almost no hope of making the playoffs. It was the exact opposite with his old team, the Phoenix Suns. The Raptors have lost the past four games by a combined 17 points.

In the wake of their latest defeat, coach Sam Mitchell criticized some of his younger players for tentative play.

"My biggest concern is that our guys are not playing with confidence," Mitchell said. "Some of our guys are playing tentative. I just told them, 'I don't care if you make mistakes, but if you're tentative, that's when you make mistakes.' If you're aggressive, you're going to make more plays ... they've just got to believe in themselves. Don't look at me when you make a mistake. You made it. Nothing we can do about it. I need to see when they make one, get their head up and come back with some confidence and play."

He is referring to guys like struggling point guard Jose Calderon, Matt Bonner and Joey Graham.

But they're not the only ones making mistakes. Starting point guard Mike James, who led the team with 26 points, was turnover-prone in crunch time and the team coughed up the ball eight times in the fourth.

"I hold myself accountable for making turnovers in the fourth quarter," James said. "It's just about making plays and as a point guard, I've got to be able to be under control and be able to make the right play at the right time."

The Heat's deadly duo of Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade was nearly unstoppable. O'Neal scored 27 points, while Wade nailed 15 of 19 shots for 32 points. Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson had 19 apiece for the Raptors.

Some of the usual problems were on display last night. The Raptors do not have a real good centre -- Bosh, Bonner and Eric Williams took turns guarding O'Neal in the fourth -- and the bench is weak, scoring just 10 points against Miami.

The Raptors lost starting centre Antonio Davis in the third quarter after he was hacked in mid-air by Udonis Haslem while going to the basket, resulting in a back sprain. He is day to day.

The Raptors blew an early 13-point lead and while they eventually got back in front, they couldn't make a serious run down the stretch.

The Raptors play host to the Atlanta Hawks tomorrow night.

REPORT CARD

B- Offence: Chris Bosh, Morris Peterson and Mike James have become reliable scoring options, but the bench is another story.

D+ Defence: The Heat was over the 60% mark from the field most of the game. The Raptors had no idea how to stop Dwyane Wade.


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