Game Rap: Raptors 95, Blazers 91
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
IT WAS OVER WHEN
Kyle Lowry rebounded a C.J. McCollum missed three-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining and threw the ball into the air as time expired. The Raptors collected a hard-fought 95-91 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers for their seventh straight road win and 22nd victory on the season.
Portland was without All-Star and leading scorer Damian Lillard who missed the game with a sprained ankle. Evan Turner returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with an ankle sprain.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, SLOW STARTING
After a comeback victory in Utah, the Raptors went their separate ways to spend the Christmas holiday with family and friends before flying back to Portland to prepare for Monday’s game. Although the team got a practice in on Sunday, the flying across the country appeared to take a toll early, as the Raptors came out flat and struggled to score. Thanks to a late push to close the first half, Toronto held a 43-42 lead at the break despite shooting just 38 percent in the first two quarters. DeMar DeRozan and C.J. McCollum each scored 14 points to lead their respective teams.
STARTING TO WAKE UP
Things improved for Toronto in the third, where Kyle Lowry led the way offensively, making 4-of-6 shots to lead the team with 11 points in the quarter. The Raptors shot 42 percent, but couldn’t slow the Blazers who connected on 52 percent of their field goal attempts. Still, Toronto outscored Portland 30-26 in the quarter to take a 73-68 lead into the fourth.
DOING IT WITH DEFENCE
After starting to get the offence moving in the third quarter, things came to a bit of a standstill in the fourth and Toronto needed to dig in and win the game on the defensive end of the floor. The Raptors shot just 19 percent in the fourth, making 5-of-26 shots. Luckily, they were able to hold the Blazers to 7-for-20 field goals in the quarter, making just enough shots and free throws down the stretch to protect their lead and collect the win. The Raptors were 10-for-12 from the line in the quarter, including 4-for-4 in the final minute.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Not many words needed for this 360-dunk throw down by Terrence Ross with 9:37 remaining in the game.
RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kyle Lowry scored a team-high 27 points on 8-for-18 shooting To go with seven rebounds, four assists and a steal in 40 minutes of action. Lowry scored nine of his 27 points in the fourth quarter. DeMar DeRozan added a well-balanced line of 20 points (8-for-22 field goals), 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 37 minutes. Toronto needed his help on the boards, and his seven assists were a team-high.
UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Patrick Patterson shook off a slow start to finish with 15 points in 32 minutes off the bench. After struggling to score early — like the rest of the team — Patterson caught fire from deep and finished 5-for-12 from the floor, including 5-for-11 from beyond the arc, while adding eight rebounds and a steal. The Raptors were a +12 when Patterson was on the floor.
THAT'S A RAP…
“One thing about the NBA is it’s good to find different ways to win games and this was a five-years-ago Toronto Raptors way to win a game. All defence. It was a good win for us.”
- Kyle Lowry on winning despite struggling offensively for much of the night
BY THE #’S
12…Turnovers for the Raptors leading to 15 points for Portland. In comparison, the Blazers turned the ball over 18 times leading to 16 points for Toronto.
29…Points, three rebounds, seven assists and a steal for C.J. McCollum to lead the Blazers.
15…Fast break points scored by the Blazers, just seven for the Raptors.
7…Straight wins on the road for Toronto, a new franchise record.
THEY SAID IT…
“Well we found a way to win, that’s the best thing about it tonight. I was afraid of this. I was afraid of the Christmas approach, the casual approach that we had. I knew that [the Blazers] were going to come out with their backs against the wall, wounded. Their best player was out, and their other players were trying to step up and they did. Again, our guys found a way to win. A few years ago we would’ve kicked that one by about 15 or 20. We had a lot of guys that didn’t play their game, so we have to learn from it, flush this out of our system and go to San Francisco.”
- Dwane Casey on pulling out a win when shots were not falling
“Back a couple of years ago we really needed to work on [defence] because we scored enough points and we [could still lose close games] so it was the defensive side of the game that kind of hurt us. That’s been the motto of this road trip. Defence is going to get us through regardless of whether we’re shooting high or low. This is one of those nights where we didn’t score that many points but our defence really kept us in it and we came out on top.”
- Terrence Ross on the team relying on it's defence on this six-game road trip
“We were just into them. It was physical, it was forcing them to miss and trying to limit second chance points. We got every rebound that came off long shots and it gave us the opportunity to go down and keep the game in our favour.”
- DeMar DeRozan on the key to Toronto’s fourth quarter defensive effort
The Raptors head to Golden State to face the Warriors on Wednesday at 10:30 P.M. ET