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Tip-In: Practice Your Free Throws

25 ticks left in the game.

Mike James steals the ball from the Spurs and goes end to end...

...and...

misses the layup.

Had he made the layup the Raptors would have been within 2 points of the World Champion Spurs and been poised for an upset win.

However with the miss Toronto dropped another heartbreaker, this one a 95-90 loss to San Antonio.

While the Raptors hung tough with the Spurs and played well at both ends of the court, the defending NBA Champs proved to have too much poise in the end.

The Raptors actually outrebounded the Spurs proving that when Toronto is focussed on the glass, it can compete in this realm. However they missed 10 free throws going 15 for 25 from the line. Even if the Raptors had made 5 or 6 more this could have been the difference. In a game like this against such a complete squad as the Spurs, the Raptors really needed to do ALL the little things to get the win...and this killed them in the end. It was surprising too considering how well the Raptors have shot from the free throw line this season.

After the game Sam Mitchell was obviously proud of the fight his troops displayed but acknowledged that in the NBA there are no moral victories. And even though the Raptors held San Antonio under 100 points, they still allowed the Spurs to shoot over 50%. The Raptors can't get down by this loss but must draw inspiration as they take on the league's best team currently, the Detroit Pistons, for their next matchup.

As I had alluded to in yesterday's pre-game thoughts, Chris Bosh had a tough time with the Spurs' bigs. While he did still score 18 points on an effective 8 for 13 shooting, he only GOT 13 touches and only made 4 trips to the free throw line. Not exactly the production the Raptors need in games like this. Jalen Rose, whether it be for showcasing reasons or simply because he's playing better, was the Raps' top scorer with 19 off the bench in 26 minutes. Rose shot a season best 8 of 9 from the field and provided much needed offence off the bench.

After the game Jalen spoke about the continuing swirl of trade rumours. And while he probably won't be dealt over the next few days, it does still seem rather likely that at some point he'll be on his way out.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing to take from this loss was the Raptors' resiliency. Even though Toronto got within 1 with 10 minutes left, the Spurs went on a big run looking to take the lead for good. But the Raps fought back again and were one Mike James layup from making this a real nail biter in the final seconds. Against Detroit, the Raptors will need to finish plays such as this and take care of the small details. Only then will Toronto be able to replace the "lump of coal in their stocking" sensation they must have after this tough loss.

FRANCHISE