Raps take walk down big-loss lane

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:13 PM ET

TORONTO - Perhaps it’s because it was just a few days ago and still fresh in their minds.

More likely it’s because it was downright embarrassing.

But an informal poll of various Raptors as they emerged from practice yesterday revealed a near consensus on the worst moment of the 2010-2011 season.

It came last Friday night in Oakland where the Golden State Warriors ran roughshod over the Raptors on their way to a 38-point win.

In a season that has had far more lows than highs, that loss was deemed the worst of the schedule.

Not one of the Raptors interviewed mentioned it, but that was also the night normally good citizen Julian Wright went uncharacteristically bad and refused to go into the game when head coach Jay Triano called his number.

Even without that incident, the game was one none of the Raptors would soon forget.

“That was pretty low,” Jerryd Bayless said after practice. “It wasn’t a good game. It was one of those games you want to put as far out of your memory as possible. It was bad from every angle.”

The fact that it came just a few days after another humbling 33 point loss in Denver probably didn’t help matters.

Andrea Bargnani, though, said it wasn’t one game, but the 13 consecutive losses from Jan 12 through Feb. 2 that he considers the worst of the season.

“It’s the first time in my NBA career that I have ever been through something like that,” he said.

Assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo had a really tough time stomaching the 33-point loss in Denver a week ago Monday.

He said it was the fact that it came less than 24 hours after the Raptors had played such a complete game in upsetting Oklahoma City on their home court the night before. But upon further reflection, Carlesimo went back to a Nov. 16 loss in Washington for his worst. The Raptors were coming off a big win in Orlando and a solid game where they came up just short against Miami.

“We had a day off to practice in between before heading to Washington,” Carlesimo recalled. “That was a bad one.”

Washington was also playing without point guard John Wall, but the Raptors left whatever momentum they had built up in Florida and gave up what was then a season-worst 127 points.

But there have been some good moments for the Raptors too and the same informal poll revealed a tight race between a team-effort 102-101 win over Boston way back in November at the ACC and a completely unexpected 84-76 win over the then-cruising Dallas Mavericks on their own court just after Christmas.

Both were memorable but for different reasons.

The Boston win came against an opponent which has owned the Raptors, winning eight in a row dating back to January 2009.

The fact that the win came relatively early in the season when the Raptors weren’t already buried also separated it from some of the other bigger wins.

“The competition and it was against a team that played in the Finals last year,” said DeMar DeRozan explaining his rationale for choosing that game as win of the year. “It was just big. It was the first time in I don’t know how long that we beat Boston at home (Jan. 2007).”

But not even the Boston win had the wow factor the win over Dallas did.

The Raptors began the game without Andrea Bargnani, Reggie Evans, Sonny Weems, and Jose Calderon in the lineup. Then Linas Kleiza was ejected and Jerryd Bayless twice rolled his ankle before heading to the locker room in the fourth quarter when he went over on it again.

Yes, the Mavs were down an important cog of their own in Dirk Nowitzki, but half the Raptors that were in the lineup were playing hurt and still came out on top.

“That was a huge win,” an appreciative Bargnani said. “Dallas was the best team in the NBA at that time. I didn’t have the same emotion though because I was back here (in Toronto) on the couch.”

It’s just too bad there haven’t been more wins like it this season.


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