Improved Raptors not using fatigue excuse after tough loss

Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) makes a pass in front of Toronto...

Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) makes a pass in front of Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas (17) on Feb. 1, 2014. (Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:21 PM ET

SALT LAKE CITY - Two games into a five-game road trip the Raptors are batting an even .500.

That’s one win and one loss, but also one pitfall avoided and one they fell squarely into.

Just a few more lessons this improving squad is learning as it attempts to make the jump from perennial lottery team to one that is playing for something every year.

One lesson came at little cost. The other cost them a game they came close to stealing.

In Denver, on the opening game of the trip, the Raptors played it mostly even through a half and then opened up a 20-point lead. Comfortable with that lead and hoping to save his starters a little for the second game of a back-to-back and easily the tougher test, Casey turned the game over to his bench expecting the reserves could walk it home.

As it turned out, the bench let him down. Things quickly got sloppy and, before you knew it, that lead was down to single digits.


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