The only good thing that happened for the Toronto Raptors Friday night at Marine Midland Arena was that the scoreboard went out of commission for a few minutes early in the fourth quarter of their National Basketball Association preseason game against the Miami Heat.
Still, you couldn't hide how badly the Raptors (1-2) were beaten in the first basketball game ever played in the new arena.
Coach Pat Riley's Heat scored a wire-to-wire 119-89 win over the second-year Toronto franchise before an announced crowd of 12,748.
It was a romp for the Heat, even though star center Alonzo Mourning did not play. Mourning was on the bench in street clothes still recovering from minor surgery on both his big toes last Monday.
A 26-point performance from second-year forward Kurt Thomas, a former Texas Christian University star, and 15 assists from point guard Tim Hardaway led Miami.
The old Buffalo Braves once had an owner, Paul Snyder, who would fire coaches after a performance like Toronto's Friday. It's a little early, though, for Toronto team president John Bitove to give up on rookie coach Darrell Walker. Besides, Bitove has his own problems.
Bitove is being challenged for control of the team by one of the ownership partners, Slaight Investments, Inc. The planned Raptors basketball arena on the Toronto waterfront is at stake.
The Slaight interests want to align with the Toronto Maple Leafs and share a new arena with the hockey team rather than go it alone on a $200 million facility.
Allan Slaight and Bitove each own 39.5 percent of the team. Friday, Slaight exercised a clause that requires Bitove to purchase Slaight's end of the team by Nov. 14 or else be bought out by Slaight, a broadcasting mogul.
If that wasn't enough bad news for Bitove, the Raptors' top rookie, Marcus Camby, tested his injured right foot. It didn't pass.
Camby, the second player selected in the NBA college draft, made his pro debut when he had been expected to sit out a fourth straight game.
"It was a game-time decision," said Camby, who played the final 4:07 of the first half. He scored a basket off a pretty behind-the-back feed from Doug Christie, who hustled for a loose ball to start the play. But that was it for the 6-foot-11 forward. He was held out of the second half after he reported feeling some discomfort in the right foot.
Walker, the Raptors' coach, was visibly shaken by his team's performance.
"We didn't run. We didn't rebound, but I guess you've got to rebound before you can run," Walker said. "We got our butts beat and as a coach I don't like it, even if it was only an exhibition game."
The key to the Miami offense was Hardaway. Besides his 15 assists, he scored 17 points and guarded Toronto star Damon Stoudamire, who was held to 11. Christie led Toronto with 20 points.