Raps exposed on the road

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari drives to the basket against Raptors forward James Johnson in...

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari drives to the basket against Raptors forward James Johnson in Denver, Colorado on March 21, 2011. (RICK WILKING/Reuters)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:06 PM ET

It was one and done, one win to begin a five-game road trip and the Raptors were then done like dinner.

One improbable win against an elite team in Oklahoma City, followed by stretches of unbearable play, one moment Julian Wright would like to forget and a breakthrough performance by rookie Ed Davis that provided some much-needed optimism of better days to come.

Five games in seven nights, two sets of back-to-backs, two blowout losses, times when the Raptors competed, multiple possessions when the team got completely exposed and yet they somehow return home with one win when it appeared an 0-5 trip would play itself out.

“Was it successful?’’ head coach Jay Triano would say. “No, because there were two games where we weren’t very good.”

Sandwiched between Toronto’s 95-93 win over the Thunder and Davis’ sublime play in the road finale Saturday night against the Clippers, came far too many stretches of bad basketball.

The Raptors would trail by as many as 41 points in a 123-90 loss in Denver, where Ty Lawson set the game’s tone by pouring in 17 first-quarter points.

As bad as they looked in the Mile High City, the Raptors embarrassed themselves in Oakland, where the Warriors would score an NBA season-high 84 first-half points, lead by as many as 47 en route to a 138-100 win.

When Triano looked down his bench and asked for Julian Wright to enter the game, the team’s union rep declined, an act he would later apologize to his teammates for, an act so completely out of character for the high-character Wright that it makes one wonder what he was thinking.

It was road trip where injuries began to mount, with Reggie Evans’ right foot flared up, forcing him to miss games in Oakland and Los Angeles.

Jose Calderon strained his hamstring against Golden State, couldn’t go in the second half but returned to play the Clippers.

While he ran the offence as best he could, Calderon had one of those rare nights when he turned the ball over (4) more than dished off assists (2).

In games where they had a chance to win, the Raptors had a difficult time attacking zone defences and simply couldn’t make shots, exposing what has been obvious for most of the season: The team lacks a star, doesn’t have enough three-point shooters and not enough basketball IQ.

In Phoenix, the Suns closed out the game on a 17-3 run, holding the Raptors to 9-of-23 shooting, including 1-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc in the fourth quarter.

Against the Clippers, L.A. finished on a 24-10 run, limiting Toronto to 7-of-19 shooting, including 0-of-7 from three-point range.

“We’re not very good at it right now,’’ Triano said of his team’s zone offence. “We’re a team that sometimes holds the ball and when you hold the ball zones get matched up.”

What you saw was a team that didn’t move the ball to the second side and inside out.

And when they can’t make shots, the Raptors are toast.

It’s unfortunate L.A. native DeMar DeRozan couldn’t buy a basket against the Clippers.

Had he, the Raptors could have easily won, but Davis emerged as the biggest winner late Saturday night by posting his first 20-10 game.

“As he gets bigger and stronger, he’s going to be very good,’’ Triano said.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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