The Toronto Raptors came out on a defensive tear against a sluggish Portland Trailblazers team who are coming off a victory last night against the New York Knicks. Jose Calderon was sharing the ball early picking up 5 assists in the first quarter. DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis both finished the quarter with 10 points. Stingy defence allowed the Raptors to jump to an early 10-0 run, but the love of the jumpshot allowed Portland to chip away at the lead. Toronto lead Portland 24-17 after the first.
The Raptors’ second unit started off the 2nd quarter, electing to go with a small-ball lineup with Amir Johnson, Landry Fields, Alan Anderson, Terrence Ross and Kyle Lowry. Bringing Lowry off the bench completely changes the dynamic of this team. The days of “hero-ball” seem to be gone with him; Lowry attempted only one field goal in the half. Raptors’ rookie Terrence Ross was a spark off the bench with his hardnosed play on defence, and effortless shooting on offence. He finished the second quarter 4/5 from beyond the arc. Three of which were on consecutive possessions, and the fourth to beat the buzzer going into the half.
Raptors lead 55-39 at halftime with three players in double figures. The bench provided 29 points. Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry both had 6 assists while only attempting two shots collectively. Great team basketball.
Starters are back out on the court for the Toronto Raptors. DeRozan contined his hot shooting from the first half. Aaron Gray couldn’t get a break, as he picked up two quick fouls in the 3rd. Ed Davis’ continues to show his confidence with that newly formed jump shot. Jose Calderon, after sitting for a majority of the 2nd quarter picked up 7 more assists bringing his total to 13 by the end of the quarter. Jose, DeRozan and Davis seem to be a lock in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. Ross connected on two more 3 pointers this quarter; the rise of his comfort level on the court is evident. The Raptors lead 78-61 after the 3rd quarter.
The Raptors started the quarter with their small-ball lineup. Dwane Casey brought in high IQ players with Anderson and Fields to make sure the lead did not slip away. Terrence Ross’ movement off the ball made it hard for Portland’s wing players to keep up with him. The change of mentality is clear with Kyle Lowry, he has become a completely different player since his return. It was most evident in the MGD smooth play of the game to Amir Johnson, which most likely would’ve been a layup attempt, instead of an assist early in the season. He seems to now recognize that when you penetrate, and your teammates are moving, basketball becomes easy. Garbage time started early for the Toronto Raptors who were able to extend their lead to 20 allowing for Quincy Acy to enter the game at the four minute mark. Kyle Lowry ended the game with 9 assists and only attempted one more field goal. Spectacular point guard play, lead to a complete effort by the Toronto Raptors. It was their first victory against the Portland Trailblazers in five seasons, and the home crowd got their Pizza Pizza in a great team victory.
Toronto Raptors win 102-79 extending their win streak to three games, improving their record to 12-20 on the season. They’ve won their last 8 of 9.
Game Ball: Goes to Terrence Ross who finished with a career high in points with 26pts (8-14FG).
Photo Cred: (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)