Toronto Raptors got a win at Scotia Bank Arena yesterday!
Nerves were buzzing with an extra buzz of anticipation last night at Scotia Bank Arena. The Toronto Raptors and the Portland Trail Blazers both desperately needed a win in a match that promised much yet ultimately delivered little apart from one thing: drama.
The Blazers were on the road and had seen six straight losses. While the Raptors were bringing in their three-game losing streak, having dropped 11 of their last 14 games, including seven at home, there was a clear sense of desperation amongst both teams.
The arena filled up quickly, supporters screaming for success as tip-off approached. Both teams had something to prove as one hoped to arrest their crumbling form and the other break into unfamiliar winning ways.
The opening quarter saw the Raptors take an early lead, largely thanks to some forays by Pascal Siakam, who scored 13 points in the first quarter, helping the Raptors finish on an 11-2 run.
The Portland Blazers' troubles seemed insurmountable when they missed eight straight field goal attempts to start the second, allowing their opponent to create a comfortable 19-point lead. It was starting to feel like a hopeless case. But then, just when it seemed like all hope was lost, a wave of energy surged through the court as Hart threw down a dunk and ignited his team into action. From that moment on, the Blazers stepped up their game and made 9 out of the last 12 shots, narrowing the gap and proving that things were far from over - they were only heading towards an electrifying halftime score of 58-53.Embed from Getty Images
The Raptors brought their A-game last night!
The Raptors brought their A-game and rumbled onto the court to beat the Blazers. Time was of the essence, and they dug deep to pull out all the stops.
And when the final buzzer sounded, it was clear who the top dog was - the Raptors roared to victory 117-105! This vast win ended their three-game skid, putting them back on track for success. Solid defence was also key during this match: hands up, ready to contest any threat of penetration by moving around as one unit. It was a team effort that paid off immensely, ending with rapturous applause from an excited home crowd giving their heroes a standing ovation!
Pascal Led the way, Scottie and Gary were huge contributors
Pascal Siakam led the way with 27 points, Scottie Barnes chipped in 22, and Gary Trent Jr. had 19 against his former team. Fred VanVleet and O.G. Anunoby each added 14 as the Raptors ended their five-game skid against Portland.
This was just Toronto's second victory in nine home games, and fourth in their last 15 overall contests, so this was a win the Raptors needed severely. Needless to say, coach Nick Nurse was pleased with his team's performance noting ''Much better tonight''.
If there was ever doubt about the Raptors' resilience, Siakam showed just how deep that determination runs. After two subpar showings, Siakam appeared energized, ready to lead Toronto back to the top of the standings.
Against a stacked Portland defence — Hart and Nurkic on the front lines — SiaKam's finger-tip feel for the game carved out space for him in the paint. His shooting remained precise and calculated as he floated jumpers over top of defenders.
Where Siakam left jaws gaping was on defence — especially against Lillard in the fourth quarter. Stuffed with desire and tenacity, he devised a steal and block and forced Lillard into an airball through sheer will alone. This is another example of why Siakam belongs atop the MVP race conversations: his heart never wavers no matter how hard his opponents fight back.
Leaders Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam showed exemplary intensity, with VanVleet eating a nasty screen from Jusuf Nurkic and Siakam diving for loose balls and stunningly swatting shots at the basket. Scottie Barnes winning one crucial offensive rebound between three Blazers rattled the blog table and set up Siakam for a foul draw.Embed from Getty Images
Damian Lillard awed the crowd, but turnovers were too much for the Trail Blazers in the end!
Damian Lillard had an inspiring performance scoring 34 points, but that was not enough. As mentioned, the Trail Blazers turned over the ball 24 times, leading to 29 easy points for the determined Raptors. This ultimately gave the Raptors an advantage that they were able to capitalize on.
Coach Chauncey Billups acknowledged that the turnovers were too much of a hindrance against Toronto’s efforts. With Jusuf Nurkic getting 14 points and 18 rebounds, Anfernee Simons scoring 22 points and Josh Hart having 18, it’s clear that none of their efforts could take away from their inability to successfully possess the ball as neither their starters nor bench could provide support on this front. In the end, despite Lillard going off for them, it was not enough for them to escape defeat due to their turnovers.
The Raptors' bench looked really good last night!
The Raptors' bench was on fire last night. They scorched the opposition with a dynamic 21-point performance when 4 out of 5 starters rested. It’s been an impressive sight to behold considering they had only scored 29 points in their last three games combined!
Kudos to coach Nick Nurse for playing Gary Trent Jr. with the second unit - he was the go-to guy and led by example, showing his teammates what it takes to succeed in pressure situations. He consistently provided energy and spunk that made the entire team raise their level of play, helping them form a cohesive unit even when their star players weren't in the game.