Raptors bench comes up flat

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

When Jay Triano needs a lift to shift the game's momentum, he often turns to his bench.

When the Raptors require a jolt of athleticism or an infusion of energy, someone from the team's second unit steps up.

But on Wednesday night against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto's reserves were rendered useless.

About the only useful role player to emerge was Amir Johnson, who was hardly in the mood to find any consolation when informed he led Toronto's bench with 10 points.

"Just one of those nights where we got beat by a better team,'' Johnson said in the wake of Toronto's 101-87 loss. "There's really nothing else that needs to be said.

"We'll go back to practice (Thursday) and fix the things we didn't do properly."

Maybe Toronto's rare home loss could be best summed up as just one of those defeats to a better team. The NBA, after all, is a game more about matchups than schemes.

Portland's size did pose problems, especially in the backcourt where Andre Miller and Brandon Roy were basically able to get off any shot they wanted.

No Raptor, save for Hedo Turkoglu, was able to impose his will.

No bench player, except for Johnson, who isn't exactly known for his offensive brilliance, was able to knock down shots.

Antoine Wright, who was the first player summoned off Triano's bench, went 1-of-7 from the field.

Jose Calderon missed six shots on eight attempts.

Six bench players were given minutes, combining to go 11-of-33 from the field. The number is even uglier when one takes into account Johnson's 5-of-8 shooting.

SUPER SUBS

Portland's second unit, which consisted primarily of three players -- Jerryd Bayless, Rudy Fernandez and Dante Cunningham -- outscored Toronto's bench 35-24.

"We just didn't do the job,'' Calderon said of Toronto's punchless bench. "Their second unit was better."

Entering the night, the Raptors bench had outscored its opponents in three consecutive games by a combined margin of 114-62.

When someone had to make a stop, there was none.

When a basket was needed, no one could find his rhythm.

It was just one of those nights as the Raptors now get set to play host to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night before they wing their way to a back-to-back road set in Oklahoma City and Houston.

Toronto's depth has been one of the catalysts in recent weeks.

Against Portland, Toronto found itself in deep trouble.

For the second time in as many games, Triano had Johnson and Reggie Evans play together because the Trail Blazers were having their way in the frontcourt.

Add in Portland's advantage in the backcourt and one can see why the Raptors endured a long night.

Calderon knows Fernandez quite well and wasn't surprised at his compatriot's explosive game.

"He's very gifted and very talented,'' Calderon said of his fellow Spaniard. "I'm not surprised what he did."

Fernandez led all bench players with 17 points.

He made three of five three-pointers, hauled down seven rebounds and recorded three assists.


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