Raptors routed, razzed

Toronto Raptors' Charlie Villanueva looks to make a play as Jermaine O'Neal of the Indiana Pacers...

Toronto Raptors' Charlie Villanueva looks to make a play as Jermaine O'Neal of the Indiana Pacers defends. Villanueva was 6-for-16 from the field in their 120-95 loss. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

It was billed as Fan Appreciation Night. It ended up becoming more like Fan Unappreciation Night.

Playing their final home game of the season, the Raptors looked abysmal against the visiting Indiana Pacers, who won 120-95.

The Pacers came into the game winless in their previous nine games on the road.

The announced crowd of 18,267 let the Raps know what it thought of the performance with a chorus of boos.

"It's tough," said Morris Peterson, who led the team with 27 points and essentially was rested in the fourth quarter to give some of the younger players some minutes.

"I'm a little bit upset that we didn't play as well as we should have, and it was obvious because we got a couple boos."

Embattled sophomore centre Rafael Araujo, who missed all seven of his field goal attempts and was held scoreless, became the principal target of the derisive denizens.

"It has been tough on us all season and it has been a lot tougher on the fans, but they still supported us and came here and watched us," Peterson said. "You hope that all the guys in the locker room remember (this game)."

The Raps, who failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year and second in a row under head coach Sam Mitchell, dropped to 27-54. They close out the season tomorrow night in Chicago.

Indiana, which has qualified for the playoffs and has a chance to move up to fifth in the East, improved to 40-41.

Injured Raptors star Chris Bosh spoke to the crowd before the game, asking for the faithful to stick with the team next year.

But the Raptors made it a tough night for the fans.

Unlike in the Raptors victory on Friday against the Detroit Pistons, who rested most of their starters for half the game, the Pacers played their best players for three quarters and built a comfortable 103-68 lead.

It was at that point that Mitchell decided to sit Peterson and point guard Mike James, who finished with only 14 points and did not talk to the media afterward.

Rookie Joey Graham had 18 points, while Charlie Villanueva chipped in with 13.

Backup centre Loren Woods, whose contract runs out after this season, had a career-high 12 points, including two with a thunderous put-back jam, and 14 rebounds, 10 of them offensive.

Mitchell said the game simply came down to the Pacers shooting well and the Raptors sputtering. He said he left his young players in to learn from the experience.

"You have to learn to play through tough games. It's just all part of growing up in the NBA," he said. "You have to mature. It just doesn't happen overnight. It just doesn't happen in one year."

The game basically was over after the first quarter when the Pacers took a 40-29 lead. Toronto went on an 8-0 run early in the second quarter, but wilted afterward and trailed 70-51 at the half.

Peja Stojakovic led the Pacers with 27 points.


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