Raptors the same home or away

UMAR ALI, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

TORONTO -- As the home crowd cheered in the closing moments of the Raptors' latest win, it appeared it was out of relief rather than celebration.

Seeing Toronto end a 13-game losing streak - the most consecutive defeats in franchise history since the 1997-98 season, when the "Dinos" dropped 13 and the franchise record 17 straight contests - you can't blame Raptor nation for exhaling as opposed to exalting.

Over the next two outings, however, the Raps' performances were a microcosm of what has gone wrong all season long.

First, in Milwaukee, Toronto suffered its 10th straight road loss despite hanging with the Bucks for most of the game. A collective brick-fest from Jose Calderon, Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems and Leandro Barbosa - a combined 9-for-43 - led the Raptors to shoot 36-percent from the field and are now 0-6 when held under 40 percent.

Those quick to point out the Raps have only one remaining road game in February need to take heed of the fool's gold of the home heavy schedule. This month, six of the next seven games are at the Air Canada Centre, but five of those opponents have records above .500 and the "Dinos" are just 4-23 against teams with a winning record.

An example of Toronto's futility against top-ranked adversaries came on Wednesday, defending the ACC floor against the league-leading San Antonio Spurs. Once again, the Raps played well, actually taking a lead into the fourth quarter, only to see the advantage dissipate in the deciding quarter, eventually falling by double-digits.

The loss marked the seventh time this season the Raptors were in the lead or tied after three quarters of play only to fall in the final 12 minutes, a trademark of young inexperienced teams.

With a month chalk full of quality opponents, Toronto could find itself mired in yet another double-digit slide.

SLUMPING SPAINIARD AND DEVELOPING DUO

In a season plagued by injuries and inconsistency, the young Raps can't even turn to their veterans for stability.

Looking at the box score of the Raptors' last three games, it came as no surprise to see Jose Calderon leading the team in assists, but only six in the points column in each game has to be concerning.

Saying the six-year veteran is in a shooting slump would be an understatement as he's converted on only 7-of-31 attempts over the last three contests, averaging a measly six points.

Of course it can be argued the point guard was busy dishing to teammates instead of looking for his own shot, as his 12.3 apg over the three game span would suggest, but turning the ball over an average of four times per game in that stretch implies he's doing so inefficiently.

With Toronto getting so little from the Spanish guard, it's struggled to give its two-man tandem of Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan any support. Having recently gone through shooting woes of their own, the duo has rebounded and begun to show the promise seen in glimpses throughout the season.

After a stretch of three games where the pair combined for just 23.6 ppg on 27 percent shooting, both have flourished over the last three games.

Leading the team in scoring, Bargnani averaged 27.3 ppg on 47.8 percent shooting from the field while DeRozan continues to show he's as good as advertised chipping in 21 ppg on an astounding 65.9 percent from the field.

Yet, with an increase in scoring production of over 25 ppg from the duo, it would be expected success would quickly follow, but it has translated in only a single win for Toronto.

Until the Raps can consistently play as a cohesive unit, they will continue their downward spiral into the company of the franchise's all-time losers.


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