TORONTO (AP) — Five players injured and one suspended. A horrendous road trip with five straight losses. Fourteenth place in the Eastern Conference.
That describes the Toronto Raptors, who are 4-18 before facing the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
"We've got bad luck everywhere," leading scorer DeMar DeRozan said.
For Raptors coach Dwane Casey, the advice to his players is simple.
"This is when you have to pull your pants up — I think I heard the term 'big boy pants' — and be ready to play," Casey said during the shootaround. "That's where I am. I'm a fighter. I'm a scrapper. I'm still with this team. We're working hard ... I'm not shying away from this challenge and this opportunity."
An injury-depleted roster hasn't helped matters. Casey's injured list includes Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry, Linas Kleiza, Alan Anderson and Landry Fields. Amir Johnson was suspended for the Brooklyn game after throwing his mouthpiece at an official during Monday's loss in Portland.
Bargnani and Lowry are second and third on the team in scoring, averaging a combined 31.8 points.
Casey, who believes his team is probably three to five wins better than the standings show, says coaches and players have to endure the attention and speculation that accompany such a slide.
"We live in a glass bowl. I live in a glass bowl. That's part of the territory when we sign up," he said. "So we're all men.
"And I've explained that to players. You've got to perform — trade rumors, firing, whatever it is — we all have to perform. We have a job to do. And we can't go in a shell and say 'Please go away, please go away.'"
General manager Bryan Colangelo spoke out during the recent road trip, calling the team's play unacceptable, disappointing and embarrassing. Rather than the talent level, he pointed to "lack of focus, attention to detail, consistency of competing."