LOS ANGELES ó In basketball, when youíre a step slow and get matched up against a quicker opponent, you are exposed.
When youíre battling under the boards trying retrieve a loose ball, size often prevails.
Itís a cruel game that becomes downright nasty when mismatches get exploited and deficiencies are laid to bare.
Thereís no point in rehashing Andrea Bargnaniís unwillingness to rebound the ball, a point that was yet again hammered home late Friday night when the Raptors got hammered by the host Golden State Warriors 138-100.
Incredibly, Bargnani produced the sum total of zero rebounds in 27 minutes.
Mind you, the way Golden State shot the ball and beat the Raptors off the bounce, there werenít many misses to haul down, but to lay a goose egg is unspeakable.
If you go back to the fourth quarter in Phoenix, when the Raptors frittered away a double-digit lead and recall the zero rebounds Bargnani posted in the fourth quarter, you begin to understand why nerves are getting frayed in Raptorland.
Bargnani isnít entirely responsible, but someone, namely GM Bryan Colangelo, has to sit down with him this summer and drill home the point, that he canít be content in just scoring points.
Itís embarrassing how this guy stands on the perimeter, catches the ball and goes through a series of ball fakes and pump fakes completely oblivious to guys moving away from the ball.
Itís all good when heís making shots, but he misses more shots most nights when the Raptors are going through a tough time ó which is exactly whatís unfolding as they closed out their five-game road trip against the Clippers late Saturday night.
Virtually every player, and by extension coach, is getting exposed as the season draws to its merciful conclusion.
On every possession, regardless of a teamís success or failure, someone is watching, making notes and taking stock.
When you take possessions off, youíre cheating the game and disrespecting your teammates.
Thereís no possible way the Raptors can salvage this lost season unless the lottery balls bounce their way and a legitimate franchise-changing player becomes available.
But as they close out the season, they owe it to themselves to at least compete, respect the game and play basketball the right way, even if it results in additional losses.
With so much being accomplished in Oklahoma City last Sunday when this five-game odyssey began in an unlikely win, so much has subsequently been squandered.
Again, itís not about wins and losses because all one needs to do is look at the standings.
Julian Wright is a hard-working player, one of the early arrivals to every game who takes shot after shot working on his jumper.
He has no contract beyond this summer as his rookie-mandated deal expires.
The writing on the wall arrived last month when the Raptors acquired James Johnson from the Bulls. It was a signal that Johnson would get minutes at the expense of Wright.
When Johnson needed a breather, Sonny Weems would get called off the bench.
When the Raptors wanted to go small, Leandro Barbosa would be on the floor.
Just as embarrassing as Bargnaniís oh-fer rebounding night in Oakland was Wrightís refusal to enter the game in a blowout.
Whether youíre team is up by one, trailing by 10 or in the Raptors case against the Warriors, who led by as much as 47 points, you owe it to your team and to the game to play.
In one act of defiance, Wright got exposed, much like the Warriors exposed Torontoís porous perimeter defence.
The NBA now knows that Wright basically quit on his team.
Even the most incredibly naive person could see that when a playerís minutes get reduced, in some cases eliminated to the point where they only play in garbage time, tensions between such player and a coach get tested.
When it comes to Wright and Raptors head coach Jay Triano, that moment of truth unfolded in Saturdayís blowout.
Wright should have entered the game, busted his behind, defended the perimeter and ran the floor in abandon, signs that would have showed everyone, including any potential suitor, that he gave a damn.
He didnít and heíll now face the repercussions.
Had this involved a rotation player in another year when the Raptors were actually relevant, it would be a bigger issue, something similar to the whole Hedo Turkoglu fiasco of last season.
Because it happened so late this season involving an end of the roster player, it wonít resonate.
Itís just so sad that a good guy such as Wright, Torontoís union rep, would hurt his reputation, a self-inflicted wound to his image that was no unnecessary.
ďSpeculate what you want,íí Wright would tersely say in Torontoís hushed locker room following the Golden State meltdown.
Has any comment ever summed up best what a waste this season has become?