A tough stretch for the Toronto Raptors got worse on Sunday night as they fell 114-105 to the Portland Trail Blazers at Scotiabank Arena.
The Raptors are now 2-5 in their last seven outings, dropping their record back to an even 22-22 on the season.
The first half was Toronto’s undoing in this one, as they fell behind the pace immediately through an offensive surge from Portland. A balanced scoring approach from the Blazers gave them 64 points by the half compared to just a measly 34 from the Raptors. Despite horrific shooting percentages in the first 24 minutes, the Raps began to battle back in the third, finding offence through their main cogs Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. The 30-point deficit was cut to 19 heading into the fourth, but it was still a massive mountain to climb. They continued to push though, and managed to bring it all the way back to a four-point game with 1:24 remaining. The miracle comeback stopped there though as Anfernee Simons hit two massive threes, putting a stranglehold back on the lead and allowing the Trail Blazers to claw away with an important road victory.
Siakam was the main offensive catalyst for Toronto in the loss, scoring 28 on 13/20 from the floor along with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. VanVleet struggled to shoot the basketball but still finished with a respectable 19 points and 8 assists, including an important 5 steals. Scottie Barnes was cut loose from beyond the arc in this one, taking 11 threes but only making 3, finishing with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Canadian Chris Boucher continued a strong run of form scoring 11 points with 9 rebounds in 24 minutes, but the rest of the bench was quiet, resulting in another disappointing night from the lowest scoring second unit in the NBA.
A once-again-healthy CJ McCollum led the way for Portland with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Nassir Little had 19, and Simons matched his teammates with 19 of his own. It was a balanced attack for the Lillard-less Blazers, as 6 players scored 9 or more, and the bench finished with 37 compared to the Raptors 25.
This was the Raptors first game back after a 5-game road swing, and it looked as if they weren’t prepared out of the gate. Still though, positives can be taken from the way they battled back despite the disappointing shooting statistics.
The Raptors are probably where they deserve to be through 44 games: an even 22-22. They have gotten good performances from their stars, but the reserves haven’t been good enough, the three-point shooting hasn’t been consistent enough, and defensive rebounding will continue to be a problem until the roster features someone above 6’9.
Toronto are still in a play-in tournament spot, currently sitting in 9th place. The Eastern Conference is as bunched as ever though, and so the Raptors are only a half game away from falling to 11th and being out of a playoff place completely. There is certainly work to do in the second half of the season.
Both teams will be back in action on Tuesday as the Raptors host the Charlotte Hornets and the Trail Blazers welcome in the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Siakam – 28 PTS 8 REB 5 AST
VanVleet – 19 PTS 5 REB 8 AST
Anunoby – 11 PTS 8 REB 5 AST
McCollum – 19 PTS 10 REB 6 AST
Little – 19 PTS 7 REB 3 AST
Simons – 19 PTS 3 REB 5 AST