Enough's enough

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

Whether it's the Oklahoma Thunder, the Washington Generals, the Boston Celtics or an intra-squad game, the Raptors are in dire need of a win.

It could be an ugly win, a game that demands defence or an uptempo game reminiscent of the old ABA, any means of achieving a victory would be welcome news to a team that is teetering.

"Right now, the way we're playing, the way we're trying to do things, it doesn't matter who we're playing,'' Jose Calderon said yesterday prior to the team boarding its charter for Oklahoma City, where tonight the Raptors begin a six-game trip.

"It doesn't matter whether we're playing Oklahoma City or the L.A. Lakers. We have to put everything together to start winning games."

The Raptors haven't had much success at home or on the road, but this long trip probably has arrived at the best time.

After dropping their third consecutive home game on Wednesday night, fans at the Air Canada Centre booed the Raptors and justifiably so.

Despite another quick start, the Raptors could not sustain their defensive intensity and could not create any offence in the fourth quarter in surrendering yet another double-digit lead.

Fatigue has been a factor, adjusting to interim head coach Jay Triano's systems and Toronto's lack of depth can also be cited for the blown leads and opportunities.

There have been signs of progress, but for whatever reason, the Raptors seem incapable of closing out games.

"We're trying to get better,'' Calderon said. "We need a couple of wins on the road."

Calderon insists team morale is good, despite the losing, and that players were upbeat when they gathered for practice yesterday.

"More than ever, we have to stay together,'' he said. "And we are together.

"I always prefer to play at home. I know we haven't played well at home, but now we go on the road and we have to play our game for the entire 48 minutes."

As bad as the Raptors have looked, losers of eight of their past 10 games, the Thunder is a glorified expansion team threatening to break the NBA's season futility mark set by the 1972 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73).

Tomorrow, the Raptors will be in San Antonio to play the Spurs in a matchup that doesn't favour the Raptors.

Then comes two winnable games against the Clippers in L.A. and the Sacramento Kings before Toronto closes out its road stretch with games against the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

Provided the Raptors continue to play defence the way they have under Triano of late and provided they don't stand around on offence in the fourth quarter, the Raptors are more than capable of returning home with a 4-2 record.

But Calderon is taking nothing for granted and nor should he.

"I know it hasn't led to wins, but we are improving,'' Calderon said. "It's a long season. We're focusing on staying positive and improving."

Every player should feel the need to step up, but the sense of urgency applies more to Toronto's suspect bench.

During the team's three-game homestand, Raptors reserves accounted for a grand total of 21 rebounds, an unfathomable number.

Consider also that Toronto's bench went a combined 20-for-58 shooting from the field.

Such anaemic numbers simply won't cut it, which is part of the reason why the Raptors can't win.


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