Raptors drop third in a row to Trail Blazers 99-91
Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic was transparent about his players needing to be a team Monday night.
Jerami Grant scored a game-high 22 points as the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Toronto Raptors their third straight loss, 99-91. The string of defeats comes following a season-opening win over Minnesota last Wednesday.
“Individual interests, individual problems cannot be bigger than (the) team,” Rajakovic said, later clarifying it being about players going back and forth in action against opposing players. “I told (the) guys, like, we’ve got to be a team. We got to think about what I need to do for my team to win.
“There are a lot of things that are in the control even when the shot is not going down and it can help the team. We’ve got to stay together.”
Rajakovic described last Friday’s loss to Chicago, along with Monday’s as “missed opportunities.”
“We’ve already had missed opportunities against Chicago to close that game and again tonight. We had hopes to be able to finish this game and to win this game,” he said. “Didn’t go our way.”
The Raptors entered the contest shooting 38.8 per cent from three-point range through their first three games of the NBA season.
But that wasn’t the case Monday. Toronto went just 4-for-29 from distance and relied on its 60 points in the paint to keep the score close for much of the game.
“That’s a terrible shooting night for us and we feel we can just keep getting those open looks where we can make those shots,” Raptors forward Scottie Barnes said.
“Other than that, we just have to stay on the same page with our cutting and get into our right spots and just get our offence to be able to move the ball.”
Malcolm Brogdon added 21 off the bench for Portland (1-3). Deandre Ayton contributed 10 points and 23 rebounds.
“Obviously, this is an incredible win for us,” said Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups. “Coming off of last night (a 28-point loss to Philadelphia) … our guys were focused, man. We just had so many people contribute.”
Sophomore guard Shaedon Sharpe from London, Ont., scored 14.
“Playing basketball in Mississauga, in the (Greater Toronto Area), (I) basically grew up down here in Toronto,” Sharpe said. “So just being able to play in the city I grew up in, kind of, is really a blessing and to get a dub (win) is really a blessing.”
Barnes and Pascal Siakam had 20 points apiece to lead Toronto (1-3).
The Raptors opened the first quarter on an 8-2 run, with Siakam scoring six of those points, just 1:48 into the contest.
However, the Blazers countered much of Toronto’s efforts to pull further ahead by hitting five of their 11 shots from three-point range and going into the break only down 25-21.
Portland took its first lead 1:31 into the second quarter, with Sharpe contributing to what turned into an 8-0 run with a steal and fastbreak dunk.
After Portland took a 43-38 lead on a Scoot Henderson jumper, Siakam capped a 12-4 run to end the frame and the Raptors went into halftime up 50-47.
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Barnes took control in the third quarter, scoring 12 points in the first half of the frame, including a 26-foot pull-up three-pointer. However, the Blazers went on an 11-0 run to turn around from a 68-65 deficit.
After rookie Gradey Dick scored four of Toronto’s next six, Brogdon capped the frame with a layup to put Portland ahead 80-74.
The Raptors opened the final quarter with a 6-2 run, with Barnes scoring four of them, to trim the deficit to 82-80.
Although the Raptors kept it close, the Blazers pushed ahead later in the frame. Brogdon and Grant combined for an 11-4 run that concluded with 20.1 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Siakam entered Monday’s contest averaging just 14.7 points per game, a far cry from his career-best mark of 24.2 last season. The two-time all-NBA teamer and all-star only attempted eight shots to the tune of 11 points in Saturday’s loss to Philadelphia.
“I don’t want him to take shot eight shots in the game,” Rajakovic said pre-game. “There’s gonna be nights he comes in and takes 20 and you guys gonna come to me saying he takes way too many.
“So I think there has to be a happy medium there for everybody. He’s really bought in, he’s really trying to do the right thing. Everything that we’re asking him as a coaching staff and we’re getting really good feedback from him as well.”
The Raptors play the last of their three-game homestand against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
The Trail Blazers end their three-game road trip with a visit to Detroit to take on the Pistons Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2023.
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