With five minutes left, they’d had enough.
Down 18 points in an ugly wrestling match with the Indiana Pacers largely played under the basket, the ACC crowd began booing the Raptors.
By the end, the fans had nothing left to give, not even their frustration. There weren’t enough fans left in the building to form a jeering quorum. They’d all left.
This was the week the Raptors were supposed to prove they’d progressed alongside their civic stablemates in the NHL and MLB.
If in hindsight this was the night the Raptors’ playoff dream definitively died, at least it did so quietly, while the team slept.
Three successive losses, each disappointing in its own special way, have pushed them back an evolutionary stage. This team is an entertaining upstart, rather than a minor power.
The Raptors managed to hang with the larger, far more physical Pacers for the first half. By the second, Roy Hibbert and David West were manhandling them inside.
Nearly half of Indiana’s points (40) were scored in the paint, driven through an overmatched Jonas Valanciunas, an off Amir Johnson and an unusually present but still ineffective Andrea Bargnani.
Meanwhile, Rudy Gay battled back spasms and still managed to lead the team in scoring, with 21. Everyone else was running around to little effect, watching a half-speed Gay at work.