Raptors' big pair fold

MIKE GANTER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Sam Mitchell broke with tradition last night.

A "horrendous night" from his starters had Mitchell handing out stats sheets to them, something he rarely does. If his starters heeded his advice, they'll have been poring over those sheets on the bus to the airport last night and slept with them under their pillows in hopes of never repeating the ugly story they told.

Three of the Raptors' five starters -- Chris Bosh, Jorge Garbajosa and Anthony Parker -- combined for a pathetic 29 points between them. The other two -- point guard T.J. Ford and centre Rasho Nesterovic -- had goose eggs beside their names in the points scored column.

It all added up to a frustrating 101-86 loss to the New Jersey Nets, who take over sole possession of first place in the sub-.500 Atlantic division with the win. The Raps fall a half game back of the lead.

The stats sheets delivered to his starters lockers weren't the only message Mitchell was sending.

"I told them the next time we come up here we're going to find a hotel in Hackensack, New Jersey," Mitchell said, implying the opulent Trump Hotel New York and it's five-star extravagance the team enjoyed Monday night might have left them a little lackadaisical coming into last night's first-place showdown.

Both visits to the Continental Airlines Arena this season have resulted in lopsided Raptors losses and both times the team has chosen to spend the preceding night in Manhattan in the lap of luxury.

"It's unfortunate, but maybe sometimes when you're a young team and you're feeling kind of good about yourselves you need a good slap in the face," Mitchell said.

Ford was held scoreless as a Raptor for the first time, going a frustrating 0-from-8 from the field despite getting a number of open looks.

Whereas Ford couldn't get anything to fall, Bosh rarely got the opportunity to even get his shot off, pressured as he was by two and three defenders all night.

GOOD JOB

"They had three guys on the same side of the floor and did a pretty good job of coming at me every time I put it on the floor," Bosh said.

Were any of his fellow starters having a regular shooting night, that strategy might have worked, but not last night with only Bosh's 12 points and the 10 from Garbajosa even making it into double digits.

Among those not receiving post-game scoresheets last night were Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani, who helped key a second quarter comeback that made up for a lousy start that saw the Raptors down 15-0.

Bargnani wound up with a team-high 22 points, followed by the season-high 16 from Calderon.

Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson led the charge for the Nets with 32 and 21 points respectively.

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REPORT CARD

C- Offence: Were it not for the contributions from the bench, the Raptors would have received an F.

C Defence: In spurts they were good, but rarely with the Nets starting five on the floor. Carter had a game-high 32 points before leaving after an alleged punch to the face. Carter wasn't naming names.


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