Time to court some passion

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

Intensity. Passion. Aggressiveness. Playing with a certain toughness.

Go back and listen to former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell's post-game interviews after a loss. Now go back and listen to Jay Triano after a defeat.

Invariably, those are the catchwords both have used in whatever order to describe what was lacking after a less-than-stellar Raptors outing, with few exceptions.

Granted, there are times when the opponent just has you on talent but to get outworked and outhustled by an undermanned Milwaukee Bucks team as the Raptors were on Friday -- on their home court no less -- is just inexcusable.

Coming off that pathetic showing, the Raptors' only recourse was to put that one in the memory banks, hopefully learn from it, and go on to get ready for a four-game monster stretch that includes games against the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets.

If the Raptors fail to come with intensity and passion for any of those four games and they can start chalking up the losses right now.

"We didn't play with as much passion as we should have considering the situation," Triano said of Friday's 96-85 loss to Milwaukee. "I don't know if it was feeling good after three victories or 'Michael Redd is out and we might not have to' but they outworked us."

About the only time Triano saw the Raptors match or better the Bucks' intensity came after Jermaine O'Neal and Charlie Villanueva went at each other.

"We didn't create any passion or have any passion until there was an altercation in the game," Triano said. "We don't really have a lot of guys who will do that and the fact that Jermaine did it and created a little bit of energy for us and the people in the building, which is a good thing, we feed off that. And that helped us climb back into the game a little bit although it wasn't as much as I would have liked."

O'Neal, who could be on his way out of town any day now if that rumoured trade to the Miami Heat for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks comes to fruition, admits the Raptors for the most part seem to require some form of external motivation. Self-motivators these guys are not.

"It's like we need something to get the blood flowing," O'Neal said.

Unfortunately too often this season "something" doesn't occur until after the Raptors have dug themselves a hole too deep to get out.

"Hopefully a game like (Friday) hurts enough that your self pride and motivation says: 'OK, I have this afternoon and I can put this bad taste out of my mouth right away,' " Triano said. "If we come out slow or flat against the Orlando Magic (today), they can do a lot of damage."

Triano and his staff watched footage of Friday's snoozefest after the game and forced the producers of that debacle to watch it yesterday morning, but quickly moved on to collected tape of the Magic.

"(In) the NBA, you forget about yesterday," Triano said. "We have to learn from our mistakes, come and be more aggressive."

Triano can hope his charges heed his advice or Super Bowl Sunday is going to lose a lot of the lustre for the host team.


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