Jusuf Nurkić made his second start with the Blazers and struggled a bit with foul trouble, scoring eight points in just 21 minutes. He even lost two teeth to an inadvertent P.J. Tucker elbow midway through the fourth quarter.
With the Raptors playing down a Kyle Lowry, Portland might have sensed some vulnerability early and leaped out to an early lead. The Blazers led by as much as 12 twice during the second quarter, but a 15-2 Toronto run to close out the half gave the Raptors the edge heading into the locker room.
Nurkić Watch was mostly non-existent as the Bosnian bruiser sat most of the half in foul trouble with three personals to go along with two points, two boards, and two assists, going 0-4 from the floor.
Al-Farouq Aminu had 11 of 22 bench points to lead the way for Portland, and Maurice Harkless went a perfect 3/3 for 10 points in an impressive shift to go along with some good defense.
As expected, DeMar DeRozan did most of the heavy lifting early with 16 points; the only Raptor to reach double figures.
Portland Trail Blazers 52, Toronto Raptors 53
Toronto’s run eventually pushed the advantage to eight on DeRozan’s jumper early in the third quarter, but a Blazer run led by Damian Lillard and Harkless pulled Portland back as close as two to set up a tightly contested final frame. Lillard had nine points in the period and Harkless chipped in eight to help keep up with the Raptors and DeRozan.
The Blazers fought and kept the game close, but couldn’t ever get over the two-point hump. Lillard continued to carry the load with another 11 points but it wasn’t enough.
The Blazers will get a day off before they head to Detroit to take on the Pistons Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
-- Ryan Rosback | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter