Celtics do Raps no favours; maybe Bobcats will

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:29 AM ET

TORONTO -- The change was startling.

On Sunday, having given the keys to the playoff vehicle to the Bulls, the Raptors locker room was deathly quiet.

Even the normally vocal Sonny Weems talked in hushed tones about the opportunity that got away. None of the players could get out of there quick enough.

A night later in Detroit, having won just the 15th road game of the season against 26 losses, it was like the night before never happened.

Amir Johnson, who set a career high with 26 points, was happily taking a beating from his teammates who chose to harp on his two rebounds for the night and ignore all those baskets. Jarrett Jack, in particular, was having fun with "Mr. Hollywood" as he referred to Johnson, suggesting big time scorers don't have to concern themselves with workmanlike stats such as rebounds.

Johnson probably had it right before the game when he suggested everyone had already forgotten the loss to Chicago. There was really no alternative.

Even Weems, who after the game was wheeled out of the room to have an X-ray taken on his injured right ankle, was back helping pile on Johnson about 20 minutes later. Weems also assured anyone who asked that he would be fine for Wednesday's season finale against the New York Knicks.

But underneath it all was the thought of Tuesday night's pivotal tilt -- Boston at Chicago -- one the Raptors would have no say in, but were already making plans for.

Andrea Bargnani isn't sure exactly how many NBA games he has watched this year but he readily admits it's not a big number. And he vowed he would be watching.

Jack is the complete opposite. He's a confessed NBA junkie. If a game is on, he's watching it.

Johnson was planning on heading to the Air Canada Centre to watch the game in the comforts of the team locker room.

Unfortunately for the Raptors, the result Tuesday night was not the one they were looking for. The Bulls held on for a 101-93 victory.

What it means for Toronto is they must beat the Knicks and have the Charlotte Bobcats defeat the Bulls. Any other combination and the Raptors are out.

If there is an upside for the Raptors it comes from Charlotte head coach Larry Brown, who unlike his coaching brethren in Cleveland, will put his best players on the floor Wednesday night.

Brown has made it known that when the Bulls come calling on Wednesday he'll have all hands available because he believes the Bobcats owe it to the "integrity of the league" to play their best if something is on the line.

E-mail mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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