TORONTO – The Toronto Raptors were already fighting an uphill battle, faced with clawing their way out of a massive first-quarter hole.
Doing it without all-star guard Kyle Lowry proved just too big of a challenge.
The Raptors dropped a 104-94 loss to Sacramento on Sunday, after giving a season-worst 37 points to the Kings in the first quarter, then losing Lowry to a third-quarter ejection.
“It’s terrible, it’s totally unacceptable the way we performed tonight,” coach Dwane Casey said. “The way you come into the game with that disposition of: OK, we’re at home, we’re OK. It’s not OK. How many times do we have to do that before it smacks us upside the head and wakes us up?”
Patrick Patterson added 18 points in the loss, while James Johnson finished with 14, Terrence Ross chipped in with 13 and Bismack Biyombo grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Raptors (17-12) stumbled out to another horrible start, digging themselves a 22-point deficit before the first quarter was even over.
“Yeah, it was terrible,” DeRozan said. “Gave them too much confidence, too many easy shots. . . we found ourselves dug in a hole.”
Lowry was ejected with 7:22 left in the third quarter, picking up two quick technicals when he persisted in speaking to official Scott Wall about a call.
Addressing the media in the post-game locker-room, Lowry said he let his team down.
“At the end of the day it’s my fault,” he said. “I’ve got to have better composure and I take all responsibility for my actions.
“I couldn’t be out there with my teammates and that’s the most frustrating part is I let my teammates down and the organization.”
Patterson insisted Lowry had nothing to be apologetic about.
“We know that he’s a very passionate player, he plays with his heart every possession, he’s very emotional, and he cares about the game and most importantly he cares about this team,” Patterson said. “We understand whether he gets two technicals, whether he gets one, whether he gets in a fight, whether he gets ejected, we all know it’s his passion, it’s his desire to want to win so much.
“He shouldn’t feel sorry, he shouldn’t feel like he let us down.”
The Raptors managed to inch their way back into the game, and trailed just 78-70 with a quarter to play. A Patterson three-pointer with 4:29 remaining pulled the Raptors to within four points, but that was as close as they’d come.
Darren Collison’s basket with 1:10 left put the Kings up by 12 and sent the soldout crowd of 19,800 fans pouring out of the Air Canada Centre.
Rajon Rondo had 19 points and 13 assists to lead the Kings (11-16), while former Raptor Rudy Gay also had 19 points.
Rondo was playing his second game since he was suspended for his flurry of profanity-laced homophobic slurs directed toward referee Bill Kennedy.
Kings coach George Karl said he believes the team has moved past the ugly incident.
“I hope so,” Karl said. “I don’t think it’s a burning fire, it probably has a way to flicker and maybe stimulate something but I don’t think it’s on our top-10 priority list, it’s not going to make the top 10 of David Letterman for us.”
The Raptors were without both Jonas Valanciunas, who missed his 14th consecutive game with a broken hand, and DeMarre Carroll (knee contusion). Both are scheduled to see doctors this week seeking clearance for their return.
The Raptors couldn’t get anything going in a first quarter that saw the Kings race out to a 17-2 lead. The Kings led 37-18 going into the second.
The Raptors chipped away at the deficit in the second and when Patterson scored on a running dunk with 29 seconds left before halftime, it cut the Kings lead to seven points. Sacramento led 55-48 at the break.
Patterson led the way with eight points in the third, and the Raptors trailed by just eight going into the fourth.
The Raptors host Dallas on Tuesday.