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Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum Commend DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry

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The Blazers lost, but they caught a glimpse of what they need to be to succeed in the future.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors snapped the Portland Trail Blazers' 5-game winning streak on Thursday night, with a narrow 110-103 victory. Although Damian Lillard started slowly, he finished the game with a team-high 27 points. Both he and CJ McCollum had kind words for Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who got the better of them in the backcourt battle. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room:

CJ McCollum

They both do a lot of things well. Obviously, I think DeMar is top-5 in the NBA in free throw attempts, so he’s getting to the line a lot, he’s getting into the paint often—you know, pin-downs, dribble hand-offs, a lot of ball screens, actions where he’s getting to that right hand, and he’s got different pump fakes and finishes in the lane—so he poses his different options, and then you look at Lowry; he shoots a lot of threes, a lot of off-the-dribble threes, probes a lot in the lane and keeps the dribble alive. There’s a reason why they’re both All-Stars and there’s a reason why they’re both being consistent. However many years they’ve been in the league, they’ve been consistent, for the most part, their entire career.

Challenges of this game, is this sort of reflective of what lies ahead as the competition increases?

I hope this isn’t a sign of what’s ahead. They’re a good team. One of the best teams in the East. I think they’re second in the East right now, and it shows, winning 13 of the last 14 games. So it was a tough game. We competed well, but no moral victory, so it wasn’t enough for us to win, but we see what level we need to get to to be successful and to be a playoff team, and we see where we’re at right now. We’re not there. Just have to be realistic with yourself. We have too many turnovers. We had some turnovers tonight that can’t happen, and those little plays right there kind of swings the game. You know, we get a good shot instead of a turnover, those are possessions that could help us win the game.

Damian Lillard

I think the biggest difference was just the level of the team. There’s talent on every team, but they play well together. You can hear it in how they communicate with each other, that they’re a group, a unit. They’ve been together for some time now; they’ve had some back-to-back years in the playoffs together; they’ve got experience and two really good All-Star guards. They were just a tough team to play against and they outplayed us tonight.

You struggled early offensively. Their defense—what did you think was going on there?

They played good defense. I thought I had a few looks there that I’m more than capable of knocking down that didn’t go in. When the ones that you should make don’t go in, it makes the ones that are contested or in traffic—they make those a little bit harder, but I just wanted to stay with it. Our team was still in the game. Like I said, we competed and gave ourselves a chance. When it got down the stretch, I knew there would come a point in the game where I had to just push through it and kind of force the issue. That’s pretty much what it came down to.

Was there a time when you felt like you were in position to take the lead? Because, obviously, you took a lead really early in the game and you hadn’t led since then.

I want to say probably the start of the fourth quarter. At the end of the third, I forget how much we was down. I think three. Were we down three?

Seven.

Seven after three?

You were within 84-81 near the end of the ball game.

You did get it, yeah, early in the fourth.

Yeah, and once we had the ball twice and we didn’t crack the lead, but I just felt good about where we were and, like I said, they shot the ball really well; especially in the first half. Usually teams slow down, and they did, but they came up big on a few possession when I thought we could have put a even bigger dent in the lead. They closed it out just like a top team does.

What do you think of their backcourt tandem?

They’re tough. They make plays. Demar is coming off pin-downs, he’s getting isolations at the elbow, isolations on the block. Both really crafty with head fakes, jabs, and different just little crafty moves with both of them; especially with DeMar, but with Kyle, he’ll raise up and surprise you. He’ll raise up from anywhere, so they’re both tough to defend.

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