Toronto Raptors display dominant defensive effort against Portland

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: Lucas Nogueira
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: Lucas Nogueira /

The Toronto Raptors had a balanced effort at both ends of the court as they took it to the Portland Trail Blazers.

If there was a sequence that showed the potential of what the Toronto Raptors are capable of, it was the second quarter of their 99-85 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

After coming out of the first quarter tied at 29, the Raptors put their foot on the gas pedal in what was a nightmare quarter for the Trail Blazer. It was a defensive clinic for Toronto especially on the second unit who were able to hold Portland to just six points. It took the Trail Blazers until the dying seconds of the second quarter to get their first field goal.

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were back to their normal ways with DeRozan scoring a team-high 25 points, shooting 50 per cent from the field. Lowry was looking like his normal self with 19 points, six assists and 10 rebounds and was three-for-six from beyond the arc. While it was encouraging to see the offensive leaders pick it up with Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas out with injuries, they were not the only stories of the game.

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Playing the most minutes behind Lowry and DeRozan was Lucas Nogueira, making his return to the lineup last playing against San Antonio. The 25-year-old from Brazil finished the game with 17 points and was solid on defence registering five blocks and two steals. Considering how the Raptors came into this game shorthanded and needing more minutes from the bench, it was a nice to see Bebe make an impact.

Along with Bebe, Jakob Poeltl and OG Anunoby were strong defensively throughout which was evident in the second quarter as well as in the fourth quarter. Damian Lillard was the lone Trail Blazer to have an impact in this game but when the time called, Anunoby was able to come up with some key defensive stops on Lillard.

The Raptors held Portland to under 40 per cent from the field and held the advantage on the glass with the 58-47 edge in rebounds which has been the Trail Blazers strength this season.

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Toronto will get a day to prepare for another road game against the Denver Nuggets, who are led by Canadian Jamal Murray.