Raps start with stinker

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

SACRAMENTO -- Good thing most of Canada could not watch the Raptors play last night.

The hardcore fans who subscribe to Raptors TV were the only ones who had the pleasure of watching their team start off a West-Coast swing with a predictable stinker.

Bad on defence, bad on offence and slow starters once again, the Raptors lost 107-92 against the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena to drop to 2-4 on the season.

The Raptors are 1-16 in their past 17 games on the West Coast (two or more time zones away). They have four more games in these parts before returning home.

"The bottom line is we've just got to go out and we've got to start playing with confidence," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "The thing about it is the look on our face, where is our confidence, where is your little swagger? You've got to have a little arrogance when you walk on that court and we've got to find it."

Indeed, the Raptors looked like a lost and confused team for much of the night. The team was turnover prone, led by starting point guard T.J. Ford, with eight. When they weren't committing one of their 19 turnovers, the Raptors missed too many shots, a problem since the first pre-season game.

Last night, the Raptors shot 41.7% while the Kings, the worst shooting team in the league entering the game, hit 48.7% of their shots, up almost 9% from their usual clip.

The Raptors have made no secret of their desire to run a fast-paced offence, but that's hard to do when you're not rebounding (44-35 in favour of the Kings) and not making stops.

"It started on the defensive end for us," Raptors swingman Morris Peterson said. "We didn't get any stops. For us to play the kind of style we want to play, we're going to have to play better defence and play together and we didn't do that."

After a pitiful start in a loss against the visiting Atlanta Hawks Friday, the Raptors responded with a similarly awful opening quarter. The Kings led 36-25 after a first quarter in which they shot 60%.

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell threatened changes to the starting lineup after the Atlanta loss, but decided against it for last night. Before the second quarter was five minutes old, Mitchell already had used all 12 of his players and none of his combinations really did a heck of a lot.

The Raptors closed to within 11 in the fourth quarter, but never had a chance to win.

"The thing we've got to do in that room is get mentally tougher and we've got to understand that," Mitchell said. "Like I told the guys, there is nothing to yell and scream about. We'll look at the film and take out the positive things we've done and try to go over some of the things we're not doing right."

Unfortunately, there are many of them.

Four of the Kings starters scored 18 points or more, led by Kevin Martin with 26. Ron Artest was a force all night with 23, while Mike Bibby had 18.

Chris Bosh led the Raptors with 19 points and seven rebounds.

The Raptors continue their western journey tomorrow night in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors.

REPORT CARD

D Offence: The Raptors shot 41.7% from the field and 25% from beyond the three-point arc. Having a pass-first point guard doesn't do any good if a team is going to miss shot after shot.

D Defence: The Raptors made the weak-shooting Kings look like an offensive juggernaut. The Kings had great looks at the basket, especially in the first half.


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