TORONTO - It’s 10 and counting for the Raptors, who have lost track counting the ways in which they’ve lost games.
About the only thing they haven’t lost is their minds, but their mental state will sure be put to the test as they take their misery on the road for a three-game stretch, beginning Saturday night in Minnesota.
When they had a chance to win in regulation, the Raptors created a decent look at the basket, but couldn’t find net.
And then came overtime, when the Raptors found yet another way to lose a game, this time dropping to the Milwaukee Bucks 116-110.
Friday’s tip was not one for the ages, but it did provide drama and further evidence why the Raptors have absolutely no margin for error.
Leave it to Andrea Bargnani to back his man down, in this case Andrew Bogut, create decent positioning in the paint, kick it out on a sequence that cried for a re-post and then have the ball back in his hands a lot farther from the hoop.
Leave it to Bargnani to catch the pass from the wing, turn to face the basket and find nothing but net.
And therein lies the enigma that is Bargnani, who showed a willingness to attack the rim, but an unwillingness to get physical against an opponent such as Bogut, who has yet to completely recover from last year’s late-season arm injury.
Friday marked fan appreciation night at the ACC, an occasion that began by Bargnani taking the microphone prior to tipoff and thanking the faithful for its support.
The assembled gathering would have been more grateful had the, gasp, face of the franchise been more assertive.
But Bargnani, no matter how many signs he’ll occasionally show in operating in the block, is a jump-shooting big on offence and a liability on the defensive end.
In the opening quarter, a 12-minute session that saw the Raptors commit some foolish mistakes, Bargnani had more turnovers (3) than field goals (2).
The night cried for the Raptors to jump out early on the offensively challenged Bucks, who led by as many as 10 points.
The Raptors were stagnant, not moving the ball and got completely nothing from DeMar DeRozan, who picked up two fouls and looked lost, frustrated, growing more impatient when the offence wasn’t going through his hands.
If this were a better foe and not the banged-up and flawed Bucks, the Raptors would have gotten blown off their home floor.
But to their credit the Raptors did show some resolve, the long-awaited jolt of intensity being provided at the start of the second quarter by the unlikely trio of Alexis Ajinca, Sonny Weems and Jerryd Bayless, who worked well at times riding shotgun with Calderon in the backcourt.
The unexpected was the way Ajinca knocked down his open looks from the perimeter, showing a form that was clinical as it was effective.
He even blocked a shot, but what does it say about a team when a guy such as Ajinca leads its scoring, which he did following the opening half when he netted 10 points.
The Raptors were more than worthy of their 57-55 lead at the break, an advantage that should have been greater had Amir Johnson not taken a careless foul with .5 of a second left when he left his feet on a shot fake by Ersan Ilyasova from beyond the three-point arc.
Ilyasova promptly buried all three of his shots from the line.
Just prior to the foul, the Raptors went to a 2-3 zone for the first time, a look that did disrupt Milwaukee’s offence.
Nothing the Raptors could do defensively could stop the Bucks in the third quarter when the visitors torched the homeside with their shooting.
There was no magic from Ajinca, no Raptor stepping up, a deadly combo that helped turn the game in Milwaukee’s favour.
After three quarters, Milwaukee led 81-78.