West not so friendly to Raptors

STEVE LOUNG, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 4:56 PM ET

TORONTO -- It seems the Toronto Raptors just can't catch a break. Or rather, they are incapable of creating one.

The Dinos recently wrapped up a Western Conference road trip that saw the team lose all four games. However, there isn't a whole lot to be upset about if you're a Raptors fan in regards to the play of the team during its abysmal foray out West because, all things equal, this Raps squad competes and plays hard. It just lacks the talent and depth necessary to win.

The best example of which came in Friday night's affair with the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the exception of the first quarter, the Raptors kept it close throughout the game, refusing to let Los Angeles run away with the game whenever it threatened to.

However, there was an overriding sense during the game that, despite how hard Toronto was playing, it would ultimately come up short against the defending champs because the talent level between the two clubs is too much to overcome -- a feeling that proved all too true.

The same reasoning holds true for its Wednesday contest with the Utah Jazz and the one on Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

In both games, Toronto was able to make roaring comebacks that would be short- lived because the team is just unable to sustain the high amounts of energy it must expend to fight back. An insufficient amount of depth ends up ballooning the lead back up again and the lack of overall skill the Dinos' roster possesses means playing with the lead will be a rarity this season.

That's why the loss to the Sacramento Kings last Monday to start off the road trip was so crushing. In that game, Toronto had a 16-point advantage midway through the third quarter and coughed it up.

There were a lot of factors at play as to why the Raptors completely collapsed but a major one is, again, not enough talent. In particular, Toronto doesn't have someone to go to down the stretch.

The "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" concept makes sense if the whole truly is better -- something that isn't the case for the Raptors. When they were up against the Kings, the total-team idea was working great, but when the wheels started to come off there didn't appear to be anyone on the roster who could fix the situation.

Even though both Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan had a good game scoring-wise and made a few key baskets near the end, they aren't dominant figures who can forcefully change the outcome of games the way true stars on other teams can.

The loss to the Kings probably shouldn't have happened and was, realistically, the only game that Toronto had a chance at winning during its four-game excursion. In the rest of the games, the Raps did all you could ask for if you're a fan -- compete.

It would be easy for a team with as little talent as the Raptors have to mail it in every night, but they don't. Here's hoping they get awarded with a few more Ws then what a lot of people expect them to have because they deserve it.


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