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News » Clutch plays go missing

Clutch plays go missing

Clutch plays go missingA missed boxout, a crucial turnover and more missed jumpers than many would care to count.

It was hardly the greatest night of Hedo Turkoglu's career, but his failures in the clutch Tuesday night have in no way diminished his role with the Raptors in the eyes of his coaches or teammates.

If the opportunity presents itself, he'll get an opportunity to redeem himself Wednesday in Atlanta.

"I'm not going to take the ball out of his hands," coach Jay Triano said after Toronto dropped a 106-102 decision to the Washington Wizards at the Air Canada Centre, the team's fourth loss in a row.

"I mean, he's a guy who's made plays in the past and feels as bad about it as anybody. If we do it again, we give him the Basketball; he's a guy who can make plays for people."

Except Tuesday, when he couldn't make one for himself, let alone anyone else. The veteran small forward finished as poorly as you could imagine as Toronto let a game slip away, belying his reputation as a big-game finisher.

With the Raptors down two and less than a minute to go, they forced a rare Antawn Jamison miss, but Turkoglu was on the wrong side of Washington's Andray Blatche, who was fouled grabbing the offensive rebound before making two free throws.

On the ensuing possession, Toronto put the ball in Turkoglu's hands and, while he did try to drive the basket instead of settling for a jump shot, he lost the handle about halfway down the lane and committed the last of his four turnovers. The Wizards turned that mistake into a Jamison free throw and the game was over.

Turkoglu, who got his reputation for last-second dramatics while helping Orlando to the Eastern Conference title last season, was philosophical.

"They gave me the ball when they needed it and I lost the ball that was a really big-time for us," he said. "It just slipped out of my hands. I really don't have much to say about it.

"I've been in that situation a lot in my life. I've had game winners and I've had shots that didn't go in and we lose the game. You learn from those and don't do the same mistakes in the next situation."

The overall situation the Raptors find themselves in, while not dire with 63 games left in the regular season, is concerning.

They played passably well on defence for most of the night but had just enough errors to cost them. And an offence that had been firing on all cylinders for most of the season bogged down, primarily because the bench provided just 25 points, 18 of them by Jarrett Jack.

They got no production whatsoever out of the backup wing spots as Antoine Wright, DeMar DeRozan and Marco Bellinelli were a combined 3-for-12 shooting.

And Andrea Bargnani, who had 11 points on 4-for-10 in the first half, had seven points on three straight makes in the third quarter but got only one shot in the fourth.

"On their screen coverages, they stayed a little bit tighter to the guy," Triano said of Bargnani. "They're always going to leave a guy there. That's why guys like Jose (Calderon, 20 points) are able to turn the corner and go 9-for-12. They're going to stay attached on Andrea; they're not going to bring anyone over to help."

Chris Bosh led Toronto with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Jamison had 30 points and Gilbert Arenas 22 for the Wizards.

But it was the late-game meltdowns, primarily the inability to get key rebounds, that contributed the most to the result for the Raptors .

"When Arenas and Jamison got it going a bit, we had to bring a guy over to help," Triano said. "And when you bring a guy over to help, you're in a tough spot for rebounding on the weak side. We got the help we needed, we got the stop we wanted, but you're susceptible to offensive rebounds."

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 2, 2009


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