Raps must learn from loss

Raptors head coach Jay Triano had to come to grips with a team that looked so good one night and so...

Raptors head coach Jay Triano had to come to grips with a team that looked so good one night and so lifeless the next. (REUTERS/Mike Stone)

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

SAN ANTONIO -- It's hard to imagine who had a tougher night Saturday in Dallas. Chris Bosh's mom preparing a post-game buffet for her son, his teammates and the entire Raptors travelling contingent, or head coach Jay Triano.

Sure Mama Bosh had her hands full with an extensive menu, not to mention a guest list as diverse as she probably has ever served. But it was Triano who had to come to grips with a team that looked so good one night in New Orleans and so lifeless the next in Dallas.

Six games into the season, these Raptors continue to confound.

At 3-3, they are no closer to determining an identity than when the season began 12 days ago.

Friday's third quarter in New Orleans, when the Raps dismantled a struggling Hornets team by taking their marquee player, Chris Paul, completely out of the mix, may have been the best 12 minutes of basketball the team has played this season.

Fewer than 24 hours later, they may have shown their absolute worst, as a slick Mavericks squad successfully found the bottom of the net on 75% of their shots in the second half, and just over 64% in the game.

Triano struggled to come up with a plausible explanation, finally, somewhat reluctantly, settling on a rested, well-practised team simply overpowering a somewhat fatigued team.

Hedo Turkoglu, one of the wise old vets on a relatively young Raptors squad, knew even in the heady aftermath of that lopsided win in New Orleans that there still was plenty of finetuning to come for this Raptors squad.

"It's really nothing yet," he said after the win in New Orleans. "We can be really good. I really believe that. Still we have to execute. We're still building. It's going to take time. We felt better, especially in that third quarter (in New Orleans). It felt like we had been together a long time. That's how it starts. Feeling more and more comfortable on the court, making shots and making passes and playing unselfishly to put ourselves in a better situation."

That feeling was completely foreign to the Raps in Dallas, where the free-wheeling Mavs got the Raptors out of that selfless sharing-the-ball mode and into a panicked shoot-early mode that only served to put the ball back in the hands of the Mavs, who jacked up jumpers and three's until the final horn.

"We were getting one pass and a shot, sometimes no pass and a shot and that hurts when you're trying to build a rhythm," guard Jarrett Jack noted after the game.

Bosh, who chipped in with his fourth double-double of the season, said the Raptors have to learn from Saturday's beatdown because he knows the Mavs aren't going to be the only team to come at them with a full-frontal assault.

STICK TO GAME PLAN

"The next time it does happen, and it's probably going to be in a back-to-back games against a fast team, we're going to have to recognize that they are trying to run us out of the building," Bosh said. "We are going to have to take good shots, have to attack the basket and if they are knocking down shots, stick with our (defensive) principles but just do it a little bit harder."

The Raps are going to be in that exact situation a week Wednesday when they get visit the Utah Jazz in the final game of a four-game Western Conference road swing.

Maybe by then some of these lessons will have sunk in but first it's another tough test tonight against a San Antonio Spurs team that will be without the injured Tony Parker.

MIKE.GANTER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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