When it goes bad, it goes bad in a hurry for the Raptors , who get down and tend to cower, unable or unwilling to fight through even the tiniest bit of adversity most nights. Whether it's a flaw of the collective character of the players, an ill-conceived playing rotation or, most likely, a combination of both, it needs to be fixed and fixed fast before the NBA season gets entirely away from them.
It was evident again Friday night at the Air Canada Centre as the Raptors hung with the more-powerful Atlanta Hawks for a quarter before caving in the second and eventually dropping a 111-89 decision in front of a disgruntled crowd of 17,032 that booed the home team off the court.
"You look at the things that happened," said Chris Bosh, when the trend was mentioned to him. "They got on a fast run, there's no energy in the building, there's no energy from us. I think they get some wide-open shots, easy looks - they can just do what they want without being challenged.
"We just have to get up into guys and challenge them, especially when they start knocking down shots. It's like, 'Okay, they're knocking down shots tonight, let's get up into them and make them do something they don't want to do' because that's what teams do to us."
But the Raptors don't do any of that and haven't for most of the season. Bosh said it's not a simple issue of coaching or player, it's a collaborative effort that needs to be remedied.
"It's from everybody's perspective," he said after a quiet 14-point, 10-rebound effort. "Everybody has to learn from the situation, you can't point a finger. Everybody has to raise their hand and take accountability."
Toronto, embarrassed 146-115 by the Hawks 10 days ago, actually came out with some promise and intensity, trailing by only two after a quarter. But they stopped doing anything well in the second when the Hawks made 14 of their first 16 shots and stretched the lead to 13 at the half.
There wasn't even a good Raptor run in the second half as the game continued to spiral out of their control.
"I think we get a little deflated, they hit a couple of threes and we hang our heads a little bit and we don't have that same energy," said coach Jay Triano. "We have to match that energy and, again, at that point in the game it's quite a few of the guys off the bench coming in.
"Whether it's the starters coming back at that point or whether it's guys that are coming into the game, we've got to come and fight and scrap for every loose ball and rebound."
It would have been easier to make some sort of comeback - to at least make the game entertaining - had Toronto not been entirely unable to deal with Atlanta's athleticism. The likes of Joe Johnson, who had 20 points and Jamal Crawford, 15 off the bench to match teammate Maurice Evans, are simply an athletic matchup nightmare for the Raptors .
And when two of Toronto's purported athletic studs - rookie DeMar DeRozan and backup guard Antoine Wright - go a combined 1-9 from the floor with two rebounds in a combined 34 minutes, they have no chance at all.
Toss in another horrible three-point shooting night - Toronto was 2-10 from beyond the arc - and it's surprising the final spread was as small as it was.
"Our offence that had been rolling for a while has stalled a little bit right now," said Triano. "I don't know if I can pin it on those two guys (DeRozan and Wright) but we just don't seem to want to take the three.
"I'd like to take 20 to 25 threes and we took 10 tonight ... that's not enough."
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