Looking to continue their four-game road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers (8-2) crossed the border to Toronto in an early 10am matchup with the Raptors (4-7). Previous history at the Air Canada Centre was on Portland’s side as they and especially LaMarcus Aldridge have played well, except last year when poor shooting doomed the Blazers as they only managed 79 points.
After a flaming hot start by the Raptors, Portland managed to outshoot for most of the game, at one point building a 17-point lead with the game seemingly all set in stone. Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors continued to chip away, eventually giving the fans free basketball in extra time. Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum connect for big baskets late and the Blazers deflate the pesky Raptors and win 118-110.
Toronto started the morning going 8-8 from the field on mainly all inside the paint (and some defense resembling the All-Star Game). They are terrible from midrange and it only made it worse when Portland’s big men got in early foul trouble, leaving the middle open for the Raptors to attack. The Blazers feasted on open three-point shots and on the midrange, and once Toronto got cold as expected, Portland’s defense continues to allow as many as 14 points in the paint and hold a 31-29 lead after one.
Robin Lopez picks up his third foul at the start of the second and the Raptors smell blood on weak paint defense and constantly attack the middle. Toronto didn’t help themselves when they began turning the ball over which allowed Lillard and Mo Williams to run-and-gun the offense and find open men for the three. However with paint defense still very weak, coach Stotts was forced to use Thomas Robinson at power forward and slide Aldridge at center to go small for most of the game. Toronto still banging inside, only to be down 57-54 at the half.
Lillard surprisingly only had four points in the entire first half but kicked it into gear early, nailing a few from outside for some breathing room. The Raptors’ cold streak added with multiple turnovers and baskets from Aldridge and Batum build an eventual 17-point lead. Rudy Gay was doing his best to match Portland for scoring (shots on shots on shots) but fell short and another defeat was likely coming their way.
The Raptors went back to getting Lopez and Joel Freeland out of the game and get to the foul line, slowly breathing new life into the Air Canada Centre. Seven quick points from Lillard didn’t throw them off as Jonas Valanciunas and Tyler “Psycho T” Hansbrough ate up plenty of offensive boards that turned into precious second-chance points. A 26-11 Toronto run ignites a fierce comeback that is capped on a driving lay-up at the buzzer from Gay and sends the game into overtime at 102, the first for Portland this season.
Combined timely three-pointers from Lillard and Batum in transition all but seal the deal. The Raptors overall poor shooting from outside the paint force them to take crazy shots in desperation and the Blazers escape with the win to keep their winning streak alive at six.
Who Was Hot
- LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard score 25 points each, each hit timely baskets in crunch time but both also missed some easy looks and are luckily to get out of Toronto alive. Aldridge finished with 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals on 11-27 shooting. Lillard-Time flashed in the second half and into overtime with eight assists and five rebounds on 10-22 shooting and 3-10 from deep, including one that was near half court in extra time that helped close the door on Toronto for good.
- Nicolas Batum was big today as well, looking more to score and was hot from three (5-8) to go along with his 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
- The hot streak of Mo Williams continues coming off the bench and leading the team at times with 13 points, seven assists, three rebounds and 3-5 from downtown. Another solid performance for him.
- Rudy Gay had 30 points and 10 rebounds, took 27 shots with no assists and his only three came in overtime but it wasn’t enough to get it done after it was him that gave Toronto fans free basketball.
- Hyper-athletic DeMar DeRozan follows suit with 29 points in 47 minutes as most if not all of his shots were dunks or lay-ups and couldn’t hit five feet beyond the paint.
- The three-point makes for Portland really helped today when they couldn’t get situated in the paint at times: 15-32 for 46% compared to Toronto’s 3-17 (my eyes!)
- Assists: Portland 25 – Toronto 17 (as expected, everyone on the Raptors play one-on-one and barely looked to pass once they each started their moves)
- Blocks: Portland 6 – Toronto 3
- Portland gets 25 points off of 17 Raptor turnovers
Who was Cold
- I don’t blame Robin Lopez or Joel Freeland for their foul trouble. A lot of Lopez’s contact was mostly straight up and shouldn’t have been called but Freeland made some dumb plays. Both couldn’t get set into the system today and Lopez fouled out late in the fourth quarter.
- Because of that, the Raptors got an enormous 62 points in the paint.
Highlight of the Day
Nic Batum with a sweet one-handed jam over the Jonas “Summer League MVP” Valanciunas:
Quite the scare there for a moment, but the Blazers’ six game winning streak is still alive. They head back to the states for a back-to-back tomorrow afternoon to face the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclay’s Center.