The backboards became the Toronto Raptors' personal looking glass last night, providing a true reflection of what went wrong for them in their 129-109 loss to the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards outrebounded Toronto 49-27, with the Raptors' top player, Chris Bosh, grabbing only one rebound, despite scoring 25 points.
"They got to all the loose balls," Raptors point guard T.J. Ford said. "They killed us on the offensive rebounds. It was a team effort and we just didn't match it. They were more hungry than we were."
Not only was it the Raptors' third loss in a row -- something that has not happened to them in two months -- but they allowed a season-worst point total for the second game in a row.
They yielded 120 points in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last Saturday and 101 points in three quarters before a crowd of 15,529 at the Verizon Center last night.
"We just have to be more aggressive," Bosh said. "Blocking your man out, taking the challenge and keeping the guy in front of you and giving him one shot."
Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell was not about to cite a lack of effort last night. "Our guys, it's never been a question of effort," he said. "For whatever reason, we just didn't get it done on the glass. . . . It wasn't just the big guys, it was all of them."
The Wizards outscored the Raptors 52-46 in the paint, while the Raptors shot 51.9 per cent from the field, compared with the Wizards' 51.1 per cent.
But Washington ruled second-chance points, 33-10. And the Wizards were 10-for-23 in three-point attempts, while the Raptors were 4-for-14.
Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas both scored 25 points to lead the Wizards, while Caron Butler had 12 rebounds.
"Gilbert didn't force anything all night," said Antonio Daniels, who scored 18 points coming off the bench for Washington. "He got everybody involved early on and it was contagious through the team."
The Raptors had rookie forward Andrea Bargnani, who went to Italy last the weekend to see his ailing grandfather, back in the lineup. He scored nine points. They are still without shooting guard Anthony Parker, who has an ankle injury and has missed four games.
The recently acquired Juan Dixon, who was drafted by the Wizards and played for them until going to the Portland Trail Blazers at the National Basketball Association trade deadline, started at shooting guard last night instead of Morris Peterson, who had been filling Parker's role. Dixon had 14 points, eight of them in the first quarter.
"We didn't play with that fire, that intensity that we've been playing with most of the season," Peterson said. "[Tonight, at home against the Memphis Grizzlies,] we've got to come ready to play and we've got to come with a different attitude."
Despite the loss, the Raptors retained their four-game lead in the Atlantic Division.