Toronto Raptors: Loss to Trail Blazers frustrating on multiple levels

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

Coming off two strong performances, the Toronto Raptors had a frustrating performance against the Portland Trail Blazers and the blame should be shared.

There were moments against the Portland Trailblazers where the Toronto Raptors made it close, but their opponent refused to break in a 128-122 loss.

With no Kyle Lowry, who was a late scratch with a thigh injury and Jonas Valanciunas missing his first game with a dislocated thumb, the Trail Blazers’ bench pounced on a depleted lineup. Maybe this is the type of performance that helps the Raptors remain humbled, despite owning the best record in the NBA.

Any time a team gives up 128 points, fingers are going to be pointed and in this game, the blame needs to be spread around for the coaching staff and the players. What they need to avoid doing is getting too worked up over this loss, but they have to take lessons from it too.

An obvious one was how Portland was able to force defensive breakdowns by playing at a higher tempo, especially with their ability to drive to the paint where they outscored the Raptors 60-40. The turnovers were another issue as the Trail Blazers scored 26 points from costly mistakes, especially late in the game when the deficit was cut down to four.

The positives from this game can be chalked up to the strong three-point shooting by the Raptors, shooting 58.1 percent from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, they also took themselves out of the game with their inability to inbound the ball, which led to a backbreaking three-pointer.

Kawhi Leonard wasn’t at his best in the early going, but in the second half he turned it up another level when the Raptors needed him too.

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Subbing in for the injured Lowry, Fred VanVleet had 21 points including three-for-five from beyond the arc, but he probably wanted the one play where he was stripped on a drive to the basket. In those close games, some players try to do too much, but give credit to VanVleet for stepping in like he did.

Pascal Siakam’‘s back injury could prove to be another issue going forward as it will force head coach Nick Nurse to shuffle his lineup more, especially against a Denver Nuggets team who beat the Raptors at home earlier this month.

Hopefully, the injury to Siakam isn’t as bad as it looked and he can get right back to it especially against Nikola Jokic, who had a triple-double in the previous game on Dec. 3.

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What did you think about the Toronto Raptors’ effort against the Trail Blazers? Is there anything to be worried about? Let us know in the comments below.