It’s often been said, and more often proven to be correct, that the toughest game played is the first following a long trip.

Given how hard they played, and at times playing at a high level, until crunch time arrived during their recent swing out West, it was almost expected the Raptors would show the ill effects when Cleveland paid a visit.

Even the crowd at the Air Canada Centre seemed to be plagued by the NBA’s version of jet lag, unable to will the Raptors to summon anything, content to sit on merely watch in what would turn out to be some rather unwatchable basketball.

Dwane Casey would go with the inevitable mixing and matching, a process made even more difficult with Rudy Gay (back spasms) and Andrea Bargnani (elbow strain) unavailable.

And so the evening would begin on a night when the Raptors showed no signs that they were both mentally and physically engaged against a Cleveland team going nowhere.

Far too many shots went uncontested, far too much penetration led to easy points in the paint, far too many shots went awry and frustration began to simmer.

When an easy put-back hit front iron, rookie Jonas Valanciunas looked skyward, hoping for some intervention, but none would follow.

When fellow rookie Terrence Ross, who was making his first start at small forward, couldn’t finish in transition on a finger roll, a sullen expression ensued.

It was that kind of first half for the Raptors, whose bench was depleted, whose collective energy level looked completely sapped, whose will was on the brink of being defeated.