The Raptors dropped the ball and then Jay Triano dropped the Mr. Nice Guy act.
Toronto's new coach couldn't hide his exasperation at his team's inability to rebound and defend, which allowed the New Jersey Nets to shoot 38.1% and still win 94-87 last night at the ACC.
Triano, now 2-5 as Sam Mitchell's successor and 1-3 at home, saw his team give up 26 second-chance points and earn just two.
"You can't let a team get 14 more shots than you and they get 14 more because we don't box out, we don't rebound and we don't finish the play," a curt Triano said. "I think it's a matter of us not getting into bodies.
"There are two kinds of rebounders, the guys that go get it and the guys who keep guys from getting it. Right now, we don't seem to have the bounce to go get it, to chase it. Right now, teams are shooting a poor percentage against us. But if you don't finish the play, it doesn't matter what you do."
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The loss was one of those crazy fluctuations the Raptors have exhibited all season, up 16-2 before many fans took their seats and then a fourth-quarter skid of two points in the first 7:18.
Jersey snared 20 rebounds in the quarter alone, part of their season-high 54.
The Raptors were playing home games on consecutive days for the first time since April of 1999, which was necessitated by the NBA lockout.
But it was imperative to make the most of all ACC dates this month -- one more remains after tomorrow against Dallas -- as two murderous road trips loom before and after Christmas.
"We're shooting ourselves in the foot right now," captain Chris Bosh said of the rebounding problem. "It's mostly concentration, get your body between the man and the basket, but everybody has to do it, positions one through five. You can't teach that, it's a mentality. It's too late to teach guys how to get loose balls."
It always helps to have Vince Carter in the house as a catalyst for fans, who tried their best to rattle the one-time local idol. But the Jersey player they really should have gone after was point guard Devin Harris, who leads the NBA in fourth-quarter points.
Right on cue when the final 12 minutes began, Harris went from four points to 16, sinking two free throws to tie it 72-72. Carter ended up with 20 points, with big rookie Ryan Anderson off the bench for a career-high 21 to lead all scorers. The Raptors had a season-low 28 field goals.
"Twice we were up 10 points and couldn't finish," Jose Calderon said. "We're trying to win three out of every five so we have to win (tomorrow). We're working the way we want to, but we have to finish games."
Triano continues to give the Raptors different looks than Mitchell. He had three players at small forward early in the game, Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker and Joey Graham, the latter clearing two Nets for a soaring first-half dunk. Toronto had six shooters in double figures. Jason Kapono ended the night with a season-high 40 minutes and a team-high 17 points, one better than Bosh. But while public enemy No. 1 Carter gradually caught fire, Bosh was 4-for-15 from the floor.
Bosh also took a technical for complaining about a non-call and Triano took one in the fourth, his first as coach.
Calderon made two fourth-quarter free throws to improve his streak to 65 consecutive since last season.