More proof Raps lacking

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

At a time when the Raptors should be making a push, the team instead is playing like pushovers.

Remarkably, they remain mathematically alive in the post-season chase for the simple reason that no team is seizing the opportunity.

The Raptors could have made a statement last night against a team they have owned.

With a five-game homestand looming, a win against the Charlotte Bobcats could have amounted to a much-needed shot in the arm in a desperate late-season run for the playoffs.

All the Raptors did was shoot themselves in the foot in a 112-86 loss providing yet further evidence that this team is simply not good enough nor is it mentally tough enough to win.

Larry Brown has been around the basketball block more than a few times and knows how to work officials when calls aren't going his way.

As soon as the Bobcats arrived home following a disheartening loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, Brown evoked images of Rodney Dangerfield when Brown used the media to promote an agenda.

"We don't get respect,'' Brown bristled.

Coincidence or not, but in the opening quarter both Jose Calderon and Chris Bosh were called for two fouls.

A highly dubious foul to Bosh, who was trying to deny Boris Diaw his position in the paint, led to a technical.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu filled in for Bosh and did his best to inject energy into a listless and lifeless team.

Calderon's replacement was Roko Ukic, who couldn't protect the ball when faced with aggressive traps.

It got so bad that Ukic was forced to the bench, meaning Anthony Parker had to run the offence.

Of the many issues that must be addressed this off-season, one must be the acquisition of a veteran backup at the point.

Parker has shown that he can be effective in limited minutes, but his strength is shooting the ball and playing defence at off-guard.

When the ball is in his hands for long stretches, it takes away from Parker's game.

Ukic shows flashes, but he's too raw and dribbles too much at the expense of overlooking his teammates.

Ukic wasn't the only culprit when it came to turning the ball over against an athletic Bobcats team.

In the first period alone, the Raptors committed eight turnovers.

On Toronto's first possession in the second quarter, the visitors added to their total.

Leading 27-22 following the opening 12 minutes, the Bobcats opened the floodgates in the second period by limiting the Raptors to 4-of-17 shooting.

When half time had arrived, Charlotte was leading 57-43 and took whatever air was left out of the Raptors.

The teams will conclude their four-game season series on Friday at the Air Canada Centre.

The Bobcats, at least, have a realistic chance of making the franchise's first post-season appearance.

For the Raptors, their chances are fading quicker than the rate players are dropping their heads in disappointment.

There can be no excuse for the way the Raptors failed to compete and persevere last night against the Bobcats.

Banks closes down?

Marcus Banks, whose undefined role in Raptorland renders him a non-factor, did not travel with the team to Charlotte.

Banks remained in Toronto, where he was scheduled to undergo an examination on his right big toe.

While nothing official was announced by the club, there was unofficial word prior to last night's tip that Banks has bone spurs and may miss the balance of the season.

It may not matter given the inconsequential minutes Banks has received since he was acquired from Miami in the Shawn Marion deal.


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