The Portland Trail Blazers dropped a challenging game against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, 123-105. They could have given themselves a decent chance to win were it not for an atrocious first quarter that saw the team outscored 37-14. The Raptors came out aggressive while the Trail Blazers struggled.
Head coach Chauncey Billups said as much to reporters afterward, noting that – not for the first time – his team lacked aggression. Or, at least, that Toronto played with more.
Just a disappointing start, man, for us. And we knew the physicality that they play with. We talked about it before, obviously, you can imagine how much I talked to my guys about it, and they just came out and imposed their will against us. And we just didn’t have enough resistance, to be honest with you. Every time we started to fight and get back in it, you know, you just got to kind of play perfect and it doesn’t really happen like that, so you got to give them credit. And I’ve always just kind of believed that the most aggressive team is going to have favor. Like, it’s just going to always work out in the game, and that’s what happened. That’s what happened with them.
There is some concern that these slow starts have become a trend. The Trail Blazers began their last game against the Utah Jazz with a 19-point first quarter that forced them to play out of a hole. Star point guard Damian Lillard cannot score 60 points every night to save the team.
Portland now sits at 23-26, a full game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and a half game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference standings. The team seems to have found familiarity with the No. 12 spot that it would rather shed in the season’s second half. But when will we see the necessary improvement?