In a long game featuring a lot of free throws early and some Lillard heroics late, the Blazers came up short in Toronto and lost their second straight, dropping to 3-2 on their current 6 game road trip. In a battle between premier backcourts, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry got the better of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum for the second time this season.
The Blazers were led by Lillard (50 points, 5 assists) and CJ McCollum (24 points, 5 assists) but nobody else broke double figures. The Raptors were paced by DeRozan (38 points) and Lowry (28 points, 6 assists). Jonah Valanciunas added a double double (16 points, 10 rebounds).
The Raptors took an early lead, catalyzed by Kyle Lowry with a couple jumpers, but CJ McCollum kept the Blazers close by knocking down a pair of his own shots. Valanciunas dominated the paint for the first few minutes and Mason Plumlee and Noah Vonleh both picked up two early fouls. However, Vonleh remained in the game and drew Valanciunas' second foul on an impressive layup to send him to the bench. Lillard's first basket tied it at 12 halfway through the quarter.
DeRozan started causing trouble for the Blazers with his penetration and it started to look a bit like the first matchup between these teams where Lowry and DeRozan combined for 59 points. However, the Blazer subs did a valiant job of keeping the offense moving and matched the Raptors shot for shot. DeRozan scored 17 but a last second mid court 3 by Lillard kept the Blazers within 1.
End of First: Portland 30 Toronto 31
The teams traded threes to start the second with Lowry leading the Raptor's second unit like McCollum leads the Blazers' second unit. Neither team seemed to get on a roll with officials extremely liberal with their whistles. Allan Crabbe continued his tradition of fouling a three point shooter by sending Lowry to the line. In addition to foul trouble, the Blazers looked out of sync. Three consecutive turnovers by the Blazers led to a timeout and a 6 point deficit with six minutes left.
Lillard checked back in and immediately converted a three point play but no other Blazer could hit a shot. Plumlee picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench. The rest of the quarter played out like a glorified free throw contest with a total of 34 fouls and 46 free throws between the two teams in the first half. Every time the Raptors appeared to miss, a whistle blew and they headed to the line. Ditto the Blazers but to a lesser extent. Lillard scored 17 but the Blazers entered half down six.
Halftime: Portland 52 Toronto 58
The fouls slowed down to start the third but not by much. DeRozan hit a pair of free throws (the most common play of the game) to give the Raptors an 11 point lead with seven minutes left in the third. Valanciunas continued to feast on the Blazers' front court and Lowry and DeRozan penetrated at will causing the Blazers to play catch up. A deep Lillard 3 cut the lead to 80-69 late in the quarter but DeRozan's 21st and 22nd free throws kept the Raptors up big.
End of Third: Portland 77 Toronto 90
The Blazers traded baskets with McCollum hitting some tough shots to try to get back in the game. Just when the game seemed out of reach, the Raptors went cold and the Blazers took full advantage. Lillard hit a step back 3 to cut the lead to 97-93 with six minutes left in the game.
After a DeRozan dunk, Lillard hit another 3 only for Lowry to answer right back. After two and a half hours of a slow game highlighted by free throws, the game finally showed some flow. Lillard showed off his arsenal of moves as he scored on the Raptors with jumpers, floaters, and acrobatic layups. Valanciunas continued to cause problems for the Blazers with his strength and a DeRozan floater kept the Raptors on top 108-103 with under three in the game. The Blazers wouldn't go away and a Lillard 3 kept the Blazers within 1 with 2.2 seconds left. Fittingly, DeRozan iced the game at the free throw line and the Raptors escaped the Blazers' comeback.
The Blazers close out their six game road trip in Detroit on Sunday, March 6th. Early tipoff is 3pm. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dan Marang.