Everyone Plays In Preseason Loss To Raptors In Vancouver, BC

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers got their 2018 preseason schedule off to an international start with a 122-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors in front of a sellout crowd at Rogers Arena Saturday afternoon in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"I thought the first half we did a lot of good things offensively," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "Particularly in the first quarter we moved the ball well, made good reads, thought we executed pretty well. Then I thought it kind of tapered off after that... I think we have a lot of good teaching points."

The Trail Blazers are now 0-1 in preseason play.

With just four days of training camp under their elastic belts, the Trail Blazers (and probably the Raptors as well), weren't all that concerned with the outcome of Saturday's contest. There was perhaps no greater evidence of that than Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum starting and playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter before sitting out the remainder of the contest.

With none of Portland's regular starting rotation playing more than 15 minutes, Stotts was able to achieve his goal of getting all 17 of available players (Maurice Harkless sat out with a left knee injury) into Saturday's game.

With plenty of minutes to go around, rookies Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. were both afforded the opportunity to play extended minutes in their NBA preseason debuts.

"I felt like it was pretty solid," said Trent Jr. "It was fun finally getting a chance to play. Going against each other for a while now, finally get to go against another team. And being out there and having the opportunity to play against the great players that they have, being in the moment, it's fun and exciting. I'm glad, fortunate and blessed I had the opportunity to do it."

Free agent acquisitions Seth Curry, who missed all of last season due to injury, and Nik Stauskas also saw their first minutes as Trail Blazers, with second-year bigs Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan both playing the majority of the second half.

"I felt good, biggest thing was just me getting out there, getting back running up and down the court, getting a feel for my wind," said Curry. "I felt real good. It's just a blessing for me to be back out there on the court. Try to find different ways I can get shots in the offense, be more aggressive as the preseason goes along, but just trying to get a feel for the court. It was a lot of fun."

But perhaps the most impressive performance of the afternoon for the Trail Blazers came from power forward/center Meyers Leonard. The 7-footer out of Illinois is expected to play a larger role this season with the departure of Ed Davis, and he responded with 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 three.

"I was pleased with his shooting, obviously," said Stotts of Leonard. "Thought he talked a lot on defense. I think he can still be in the position to effect some shots and rebound, but I was glad to see him play with some confidence at the offensive end."

Lillard went 3-of-4 from the field and a perfect 2-of-2 from three for 12 points to go with two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 12 minutes. McCollum added nine points on 50 percent shooting.

Jusuf Nurkić went 3-of-7 from the field and 1-of-2 from three for nine points to go with five rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes. Simons went 4-of-7 for seven points, Al-Farouq Aminu added five points and three rebounds.

But the most telling stat of the night for the Trail Blazers was the 45 personal fouls they were assessed. One of the NBA's points of emphasis this season is not allowing defenders to restrict player movement, which is something Portland, already a team that tends to foul a lot, will need to address throughout the preseason.

"I talked to the officials and they're going to call it tight so that we all adapt," said Stotts. "Going back to the early to mid 90's when they were trying to reign in hand-checking and the exhibition games were sometimes difficult to watch because they were just trying to change habits. I think you'll probably see that until the players and coaches adapt to what they're looking at."

Jonas Valanciunas led all scorers with 17 points to go with seven rebounds. Kawhi Leonard added 12 points, three assists and a rebound in his first action as a Raptor.

Next up, the Trail Blazers head back to Portland to host the 2018 Wells Fargo Fan Fest Sunday night at the Moda Center. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the scrimmage tipping off at 7 p.m.