It only gets worse

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- The Raptors can't find many blank squares on their December calendar.

What they can see are lots of red and black home and road dates, piling up between now and Dec. 22. Toronto is playing at least every second night starting with Friday's loss here, the flight home yesterday and a quick turnaround for a 1 p.m. game against Portland and then back-to-back against Cleveland and Indiana starting Tuesday.

"The games are our practices right now," Chris Bosh said. "But that's the fate we're given right now and we have to get some wins in the process. There are so many things to do and we're making changes on the fly.

"That's tough, but it's no excuse, we have to play basketball, we have to expect to win every time we come out on the court."

The team changed coaches from Sam Mitchell to Jay Triano, but can't alter the schedule, which last week directed them through the Western Conference to play three killer clubs at a most inopportune time.

Defeats in Los Angeles, Denver and Utah were by an average of 23 points, while the Raptors are 2-19 against those three teams on the road the past three years.

"It's a tough schedule, but this is the NBA," Triano said. "You're always looking at a back-to-back, or games on the road against tough teams or teams playing very well. The minute you have a break in the schedule is when you drop down, play sub-par, and that's when you get hurt."

At least the Raptors will be in friendlier confines today, knowing that they won their past two games at the Air Canada Centre before the wheels came off for Mitchell on the trip.

"At times like this, we really need that home support," centre Jermaine O'Neal said. "Sometimes you feel it's just you (against the world). Now we're coming home and we know it will be a crazy building. We're going to feed off of them."


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