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Jeff Blair

Raptors coming undone Add to ...

Toronto begins to look like an NBA first round sweep waiting to happen after 26 point spanking by Oklahoma City

It really matters naught whether Andrea Bargnani or Hedo Turkoglu "face the music" with the local media because they don't have any answers, anyhow. That's apparent to anybody who has seen them stare into a camera.

I mean, there just isn't a great deal happening there, you know? Sometimes you can't make up the stuff - like walking into the Toronto Raptors' locker room last night after an embarrassing, 115-89 face-washing administered by the Oklahoma City Thunder and hearing Turkoglu riding the clubhouse guy because "I can't find my underwear."

Here's a hint, Hedo: Kevin Durant probably has it, because he took everything else from you and your teammates in front of a braying announced crowd at the Air Canada Centre. He took much, much more than 31 points and six rebounds.

"No resistance, man," a properly reserved Chris Bosh said afterward. "No resistance. It's no science. There's no structure. You just have to get the basketball.

"It was," he added, "too easy."

A Bosh prayer in a 106-105 win over the Atlanta Hawks and a 102-96 win over the New York Knicks is the only reason this team isn't looking at a 12-game losing streak this morning and, frankly, a plague of Chicago Bulls injuries is the only reason they aren't in ninth place.

Raptors head coach Jay Triano is right - to a point - when he said the outcome was in some ways predictable (although surely not 26 points worth of predictability) because of the Thunder's athleticism and speed and, oh yeah, 41 wins. In some quarters, that would be an indictment of one's team but the Raptors are so brainless and heartless on nights like this that all one can do is shrug and agree with the coach.

The Thunder shot 41 per cent, but they built up a 71-44 halftime lead by pulling down 15 offensive rebounds.

"Any time you play a team and half the time they miss they're going to get it back, you're going to be in a bit of a hole. When they keep getting the ball back, it doesn't matter what per cent they're shooting," Triano said.

Last night's run off the court will of course result in immediate concern to the fleeting few who believe this collection of players is anything better than a first-round sweep waiting to happen, but it might be time to look beyond, too.

Turkoglu is in the first year of a five-year, $53-million contract and let's face it: one of the reasons he was signed was so that the Raptors had some semblance of a representative NBA front line in the event that Bosh, who led the Raptors with 22 points, walked at the end of the season.

Turkoglu was road-kill against the athletic Thunder, with no points in his first 11 minutes during which he spent most of the time waving at Thunder players as they rolled by him. Bargnani had another dozy effort at both ends of the floor.

The unstated thinking was that Turkoglu and Bargnani at least gave the Raptors ground for recovery. But it is now patently clear that Bosh's departure would send this team into a rebuilding mode because he is the only person on the roster currently capable of starting on a good NBA team.

Turkoglu in particular is so abject and so low energy and has such awful body language that it is not a stretch to repeat the sneaking suspicion he is this franchise's Vernon Wells.

If the Raptors spit out the bit down the stretch he will be the player nobody ever really likes with the contract everybody hates. That's just the way we roll in T.O., so there's much, much more at stake down the stretch than a playoff spot.

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