Raptors run out of gas

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

PORTLAND -- The Raptors have one last shot to salvage their Christmas road swing.

One shot at redemption and one opportunity to return home with a .500 road record.

It isn't much, but the Raptors aren't that good and last night, despite their best efforts, they couldn't play a complete game against the Portland Trail Blazers, who are poised for something special.

Toronto's lack of depth was exposed and until something gets done, there will be more nights such as last night when the Raptors hang around, but are incapable of closing out games.

Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal need help and no one stepped up.

Jason Kapono was a non-factor, as was Anthony Parker, as was Jamario Moon.

In the end, Portland's energy, youth and overall team depth was too much for the Raptors to handle as Toronto fell 102-89.

The Raptors have played in stretches when they've looked awfully good, but nothing compared to the opening half of last night's game.

They controlled tempo, shared the basketball, made shots and kept Portland's rabid fans out of the game.

It was a clinic of high-end basketball, but momentum swung with the most unlikely of shots, a half-court heave hoisted by Travis Outlaw just as the half was about to expire.

More than give the fans a reason to cheer, Outlaw's dagger, which followed a perfectly executed play by the Raptors, gave Portland life.

What should have been a double-digit lead at the break turned into a 57-49 Toronto advantage.

BLAZERS TAKE CONTROL

But the game's tenor had changed and when the teams emerged for the third quarter, the Trail Blazers began to take control.

Where once Toronto's shots were falling, suddenly they were hitting iron.

Toronto's energy level suddenly plummeted and its game went down the toilet.

Fans in Toronto, at least those who truly care about the game, and the suits at the Air Canada Centre should do themselves a favour by paying a visit to the Rose Garden.

This place was buzzing and the in-house entertainment was stirring.

With the young and energetic Blazers taking over the game, the night was electrifying.

The Raptors, at least, showed they can play at a high level against a quality opponent, but they can't sustain their play.

Coming off a win over the Sacramento Kings a night earlier, you knew fatigue would be a problem, you knew that Toronto's lack of depth, especially at the point, would prove problematic.

It was there for everyone to see.

The Raptors would score a season-low 10 points for a quarter in the third period, a 12-minute span dominated by the Blazers.

Toronto would commit five turnovers, while O'Neal picked up his fourth foul in that fateful third quarter.

Momentum and the crowd clearly on their side, the Blazers would lead by double digits in the fourth quarter.

The Blazers' Brandon Roy led all scorers as he poured in 32 points.

Bosh finished with 29 points to lead the Raptors

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REPLAY

DAZZLING DUNK

After Greg Oden was rejected by Jermaine O'Neal, Portland's behemoth centre went right at O'Neal and dunked over the helpless Raptor. A few possessions later, Chris Bosh dunked over Travis Outlaw, was fouled and completed a three-point play.

GOING BIG

Toronto's three-headed monster of Bosh, O'Neal and Andrea Bargnani was reunited during second-quarter stretches. The unusual look is effective when Bargnani is making perimeter shots. For the second game in a row, Bargnani reached double digits in scoring.

NIFTY PASS

Jason Kapono showed off his craftiness by making a remarkable behind-the-back pass to Jose Calderon after he picked up his dribble near the baseline. Calderon completed the sequence by burying a three-pointer.

BOXSCORE

FG FT Reb

TORONTO Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Moon 29:17 4-8 0-0 7-8 0 1 8

Bosh 39:08 9-17 11-11 2-9 0 2 29

O'Neal 34:55 8-17 1-1 1-4 3 5 17

Kapono 31:39 0-5 0-0 2-4 1 2 0

Calderon 38:47 5-9 0-0 0-2 8 1 11

Parker 22:13 2-6 0-0 0-3 3 0 6

Bargnani 21:31 5-12 0-0 0-2 1 3 13

Solomon 9:13 2-4 0-0 0-2 1 0 5

Graham 12:25 0-0 0-0 0-2 1 2 0

Voskuhl 0:18 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Humphries 0:35 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 240:01 35-78 12-12 12-36 18 17 89

Percentages: FG .449, FT 1.000. 3-Point Goals: 7-19, .368 (Bargnani 3-4, Parker 2-4, Calderon 1-3, Solomon 1-3, Kapono 0-2, Moon 0-3). Team Rebounds: 5. Team Turnovers: 13 (14 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (O'Neal 3). Turnovers: 13 (Calderon 4, Bargnani 2, Kapono 2, Solomon 2, Moon, O'Neal, Parker). Steals: 5 (Calderon 2, Moon, O'Neal, Parker). Technical Fouls: Coach Triano, 4:34 fourth.

FG FT Reb

PORTLAND Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Batum 16:31 1-2 0-0 0-2 0 0 3

Aldridge 37:52 7-13 7-8 1-9 2 4 21

Oden 28:21 5-7 6-6 7-10 0 3 16

Roy 38:29 14-19 2-2 0-1 9 1 32

Blake 33:53 2-7 0-1 0-4 7 1 5

Przybilla 19:04 1-3 0-0 2-8 0 3 2

Outlaw 26:42 5-13 0-2 1-4 0 1 12

Rodriguez 14:07 2-6 0-0 0-0 1 1 4

Fernandez 19:07 1-5 0-0 1-2 1 0 3

Frye 5:54 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 0 4

Totals 240:00 40-79 15-19 12-40 20 14 102

Percentages: FG .506, FT .789. 3-Point Goals: 7-23, .304 (Roy 2-4, Outlaw 2-6, Batum 1-2, Blake 1-4, Fernandez 1-5, Frye 0-1, Rodriguez 0-1). Team Rebounds: 5. Team Turnovers: 8 (7 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Oden, Outlaw, Roy). Turnovers: 8 (Blake 2, Roy 2, Aldridge, Batum, Oden, Rodriguez). Steals: 8 (Aldridge 2, Blake 2, Rodriguez 2, Batum, Outlaw). Technical Fouls: None.

Toronto 28 29 10 22-- 89

Portland 26 23 20 33--102

Att. at Portland--20,588 (19,980). T--2:02.

Officials--Steve Javie, Kevin Fehr, Phil Robinson.

NEXT UP

Tomorrow, 10:30 p.m., at Golden State Warriors, TV: TSN; Radio: Fan 590.


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