NEW YORK -- Over and over again, the word pride was used in a sombre Raptors locker room last night.
That is what was sorely lacking in one of the worst exhibitions of basketball the Raptors have been a part of this season.
Two minutes and 13 seconds into the game, the Raptors were down 9-0. With the fragile state of their collective psyche, it might have been the first knockout blow in the history of the NBA before a game reached the three-minute mark.
By the end of the quarter the deficit was 20 as the Knicks put up an opponent's season-high 42 points. By the half, the Knicks had scored 75, also a season high for a half in a regulation game and it just kept getting worse until the final whistle ended an embarrassing 127-97 defeat.
That this was supposed to be a big game, one of those cherished opportunities to go head-to-head with one of the five teams that stands between them and a possible, albeit unlikely, playoff berth, was a message that clearly didn't get through.
"We have to stop talking about trying to turn this around," a frustrated Jose Calderon said after the game. "I'm getting very tired of hearing that. A game like tonight's we have to go out there and fight, and have some pride and try to go game by game. Don't try and turn it around in a night because it's not working.
"Right now we're going backwards," Calderon said. "We say we want to turn it around but we don't look like we want it. Sunday is going to be a big game because after the way things went today, we have to show some pride."
Calderon wasn't the only one questioning the Raptors' determination and will to win.
The Raptors get a rare shot at immediate revenge tomorrow with the Knickerbockers and the peacock-proud strutting Nate Robinson paying a visit to the Air Canada Centre.
Head coach Jay Triano was asked if he thought it would be very hard to get motivated for that game given the letdown last night in New York.
"It shouldn't have been too tough to get up for this one," Triano shot back. "Really. We talked about the importance of this game. Our players know it. Our fans know it. Everybody knows it. We're going to have to bounce back and find out if we have some pride."
Chris Bosh, who saw his first action in over two weeks and was showing some definite signs of rust, didn't even attempt to hide his disdain for the way the night went.
"We showed no confidence or pride tonight on the court," he said.
The Raps shot just under 41%. The Knickerbockers were just a tad under 50%, including 17-of-39 from the three-point line. The 17 three- pointers tied a franchise high for an opponent, last done in 2006 by the Golden State Warriors.
That Mike D'Antoni's Knicks were playing with just eight men -- newest Knicks Larry Hughes and Chris Wilcox did not play -- didn't seem to slow them down in the least.
Wilson Chandler led the charge with a career high 32 points. He was one of four Knicks -- yes, that's half of last night's roster -- that hit for 20 or more.
Robinson, with 26, was thumping his chest and preening like he had single-handedly knocked off the defending league champs.
But a bowed and beaten Raptors squad let it go on the entire evening without any reaction.
Normally, getting another crack at the same team that just blew your lights so soon would be looked upon as a good thing.
Unless some major soul-searching goes on in the next 30 or so hours by the Raptors, there's not going to be anything good about it.
LAST NIGHT AT NEW YORK
COMING OUT FLAT
To call the Raptors' first quarter lacking would be a huge understatement. The Raps allowed a season-high 42 points in the quarter and replied with just 22 of their own.
Italian Heritage Night at Madison Square Garden brought out a large Itallian media contingent. Maybe it was because the game was such a dud or maybe it's just accepted practice in Italy, but a handful of the working Italian media on press row were enjoying the type of beveridge normally reserved for the post-game establishment of choice. And yes, that is jealousy.
While the Knicks were missing once every eight or nine trips down the floor, the Raptors were struggling to even hit the rim. On back to back possessions late in the first quarter both Roko Ukic and Jason Kapono tossed up air balls.