Very trying times for Raps

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

ORLANDO -- Sam Mitchell applauded the effort.

If only he could do the same thing for a win one of these days, life would be a lot better for the Raptors coach and his players.

The short-staffed Raptors extended their losing streak to a season-high 10 games with a 103-96 loss to the red-hot Orlando Magic last night.

Credit the Raptors for putting up a fight with just 10 healthy bodies, staying in the game most of the night. But in the end it added up to another loss, giving the Raptors their fifth losing streak of 10 games or more in franchise history and first since a 12-gamer ended Jan. 10, 2003.

"Overall, I'm pleased with our effort," Mitchell said. "We played hard, we kept giving ourselves a chance. We probably ran out of gas toward the end a little bit. Considering we had to wrestle with Miami one night and come back and play this team the next night, I thought the guys played hard and they played well."

Forward Matt Bonner was added to the growing injury list after spraining his left ankle Tuesday in Miami. He likely is done for the season.

The Raptors' weak front-court, therefore, became that much weaker. Second-year starters Pape Sow and Rafael Araujo try hard, but they don't scare anybody.

"It's definitely a mental challenge to get prepared for a game because it's frustrating (to have an injury-riddled roster)," Raptors point guard Mike James said. "It's frustrating when you don't have all your pieces to the puzzle."

An 11-0 run in the third quarter gave the Magic a lead it would not relinquish. It was the sixth win in a row for the Magic, which is three games out of the final playoff spot with four games to go. Orlando looks like the NBA equivalent of the Maple Leafs with its late-season charge that likely will end up meaning nothing.

SHAMBLES

The Raptors have three games left. They talked about being pleased with outrebounding the Magic 41-37, but that's not exactly a reason to plan a parade route.

With his roster in shambles, Mitchell is running out of options.

"I was afraid I was going to have to play Mike (James) at (power forward) and Mo (Peterson) at (centre) if we kept getting in foul trouble," Mitchell said. "Mo said he played (centre) in high school."

Peterson led the Raptors with 23 points, James had 21 and Charlie Villanueva fought through foul trouble and had a strong game at both ends, picking up 19 points and six rebounds.

All five Magic starters scored in double figures, including top man Jameer Nelson with 27.


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