Too many no-shows from Raps

Raptors forward Hedo Turkoglu holds a towel to his face after taking a headbutt during Wednesday's...

Raptors forward Hedo Turkoglu holds a towel to his face after taking a headbutt during Wednesday's game against the Boston Celtics. (Mark Blinch/REUTERS)

MIKE GANTER, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:46 PM ET

Heading into the game, the candidates seemed obvious.

If the Raptors were somehow going to overcome the loss of Chris Bosh and his 24 points and 12 rebounds a night at this pivotal juncture in the season, it was going to be one of Andrea Bargnani or Hedo Turkoglu who would have to rise to the occasion.

As usual with this team, the obvious was dead wrong.

What little chance the Raptors did have Wednesday night came from Sonny Weems, who came out with the kind of determination one would expect from a team that was missing its franchise piece.

The loss, by itself, is hardly a surprise. The Celtics are at full strength. The Raps are minus their best player. The

115-104 final was by no means an embarrassment.

Weems stepping up his game was a surprise. Sadly, Bargnani and Turkoglu failing to do so was not.

Turkoglu, in the seven minutes he had to show anything before he headed to the hospital with a bruised nose — at least the Raptors are hoping it was no more than that — had three steals to show for his night but little else.

It’s tough to pile on a guy who spent the night in hospital, but the truth of the matter is Turkoglu’s performance in the early going Wednesday was on par with what he has done for most of the year.

Would it have been any better had he stayed in the game? Who can really say?

Bargnani had no excuse. He has been a very solid player at times this season, but of late, and particularly when Bosh sat out those seven games with a sprained ankle, he was all but invisible.

Bargnani, through the first half, had eight points on 4-of-11 shooting. He wound up with 17, but the Raptors needed more from him.

Weems, meanwhile, was leading the Raptors through the first two quarters with 17 points, three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

He was the reason the Raps were able to stay in this one.

By game’s end he had 21 points, one more than his previous career high.

Prior to the game, head coach Jay Triano was asked if he expected Bargnani and Turkoglu to rise to the challenge and help make up for the points they were going to be missing with Bosh out.

“If what they do is score, yeah, they have to score,” Triano said.

Bargnani’s 17 points in the game but needed 22 shots to get it. Weems, meanwhile, got his 21 on just 13 shots.

The Raps managed to stay in range with the Celtics until midway through the fourth when the combination of Ray Allen and Michael Finley, getting hot at just about the same time, swung the game in the Celtics’ favour for good.

In a two-minute span Allen hit a three and then converted a three-point play the old- fashioned way, from the line, while Finley hit back-to-back threes of his own to make a six-point game a 13-point Celtics edge.

The Raps did get it back down to six again after that, but could get no closer.

Rajon Rondo wound up leading the Celtics with 21 followed closely by Paul Pierce with 20 and Kevin Garnett with 19.

The Raptors bench did its job, getting 17 from Wright who wasn’t even certain to play after spraining his foot on Tuesday and 17 more form Jarrett Jack.

All told, the Raptors bench outscored the Celtics subs 58- 30, but the home side was no match for the Celtics starting five.

It’s now down to four games and the Raps own a half game edge on Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot.

They are going to need more from everyone if the Raptors are going to hold off Chicago.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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