Raptors 103, Trailblazers 106 – Box

It’s debatable whether it would’ve been better for my health if the Raptors had ended up losing by 19, or in the fashion that they did.  A forgettable first half started with Portland moving the first pawn through a Nicolas Batum on Kyle Lowry switch, which had quite an adverse effect on the Raptors’ offense as they were unable to negotiate Portland’s ball-pressure and length, and were seduced into a heavy dose of jump-shooting.  Not having a steady ball-handler in Greivis Vasquez available (flu) prevented Dwane Casey from kick-starting the offense by using the two-guard lineup with Kyle Lowry off the ball, and when the onus fell on DeMar DeRozan to produce offense in the absence of constructive ball-movement, his outside shooting let him down.  In the first half, that is.

[Read the grades from the Reaction post]

DeRozan on Defense

“We understand what we had to do, honestly. We understand we were down big and the only way we would get back in this game was to get stops and that’s what we started doing. That was the main part. We were missing a lot of easy shots that we normally make, but we don’t worry about that. The only thing we worry about is the defensive game and we picked it up in the second half.”

DeMar DeRozan


Jonas Valanciunas (18 pts, 8-11 FG, 4 reb, 5 PF) was matched up against Robin Lopez, who the Lithuanian concedes an inch and 25 pounds to, and every single ounce was self-evident on this night.  To the sophomore’s credit, his mid-range game was as fluid as it has ever been, and his offensive decision-making quick and correct, yet his coach will have to have felt aggrieved at his defensive performance.  His rebounding and general defensive positioning was simply off, and whenever you play defense while being out of position you end up fouling, which is what happened to him.  Having being tacked with three fouls in the first half made him hesitant on defense, which was accentuated even more by his partner, Amir Johnson’s, ineffectiveness.

LaMarcus Aldridge was unstoppable in the first quarter (netted a double-double in the first) and almost all of it came against Johnson, who couldn’t contain him in the post or out in space.   On the other end, Aldridge was let off the hook because he didn’t have to defend anyone since the Raptors were hoisting jumpers and there was little pick ‘n roll play, which meant all Aldridge had to do was focus on defensive rebounding, which he did well.  Down by 12 at the end of the first, the Raptors didn’t get the punch from the bench that they usually get (scoreless in the second), with Julyan Stone being exposed as a man who can only be asked to bring the ball up the court.  No more and barely that.

First Half Unacceptable

“First half, we came out with a typical back-to-back approach. It wasn’t us. I thought we picked it up in the second half, but again you can’t spot a good team like Portland that many points and expect to survive. I commend our guys for fighting and scrapping in the second half, but we have to start the game in that approach, even on a back-to-back.”

– Dwane Casey


Down 17 at the half things were looking bleak, but there was some silver lining on the wall: 1) Portland was only 2-8 from three and it was due to the Raptors not letting down defensively even though the offense was sputtering, 2) the Raptors were 0-8 from three which has been their bread-and-butter of late, and 3) they had missed 7 free throws (17-25, 68% for the game).   Someone checking the halftime score might have though Portland was dominating, when in fact the truth was that the Raptors were masters of their own demise in many senses.

After shooting only 35% in the first half, the Raptors shot 58% in the third.  DeMar DeRozan (14-29 FG, 36 pts, 12 ast – shot performance) led the way with 16 in the frame and the lead was slashed to six, only for Portland to hit back-to-back threes to take a 9-point lead into the fourth.  Kyle Lowry, now being guarded by Lillard as well, had more success getting around high screens than he had with Batum, and Chuck Hayes battled Aldridge, forcing the All-Star to take contested jumpers.  Aldridge was only 2-8 FG in the second half when Hayes guarded him.  Patrick Patterson stepped up in the third as well getting some key in-traffic rebounds and supplying the customary offense, which included a three right in Aldridge’s eye.  Amir Johnson, no doubt hampered by injury, played only three minutes in the second half and none in the fourth quarter.

No Jumpers

“We started screening a lot better, getting to the rim a lot better, executing our game plan and what we wanted to do. We have to drive the ball and get to the paint and we did a good job of doing that in the second half and not settling for jump shots.”

-Kyle Lowry


The six-point slash of the lead to nine entering the fourth gave the visitors the needed belief that this game was within a shout, if only they got on a hot streak.  Portland’s offensive weapons, other than some killer threes which were invited by some highly questionable early double-teaming of Lillard, were being contained and it was a matter of getting the offense chugging.   And chugged it was in the fourth as the Raptors, after suffering an early setback in the fourth through more Portland threes, blazed the trail for their comeback.  DeRozan’s jumper was in effect including two threes and a gorgeous turnaround over Lillard, Lowry pitched in with two threes as well.  Valanciunas displayed a surprisingly effective short-game, and Patterson’s timely movement and shot-making was in full color – the comeback was on.  Portland was thunderstruck and couldn’t believe their eyes as a 19-point lead had turned into a one-point Raptors advantage.  The swagger on defense was back and every Portland possession was one-and-done with all five Raptors crashing the glass.

That advantage had materialized through DeMar DeRozan drawing a foul near the three-point and hitting two FTs with 25 seconds left.  On the other end, Lillard drove and got tied up but a foul was called out-of-bounds.  The ensuing play:

Direct Link

Not very well defended as Patrick Patterson’s bumping into his own teammate, Lowry is falling, and there’s massive confusion between switch/stay.   Whatever defensive plan the Raptors had was clearly not executed – I was surprised it wasn’t either 1) an outright switch between Patterson/Lowry, or 2) Lowry going under and coming back on the other side.   Instead it appeared that Patterson and Lowry had a conference call with the outcome being Patterson setting a screen on Lowry.   It’s poor defending by any standard, and given the Raptors have no shot-blocking presence on the court, inviting Lillard to drive was suicide.  The personnel on the court for the Raptors would suggest that they want to force a long jumper rather than a drive, but the play was allowed to develop otherwise.

DeRozan drove the ball on the next play and was met with the same type of contact as Lillard on two plays previous, only this time the referees called a jumpball.  DeRozan won it and the Raptors called timeout; Casey returned with a very similar play which had DeRozan dribbling the ball (not his strength) with defenders lurking.  He turned it over and the game was over:

Direct Link

I could go on a diatribe about Dwane Casey’s out-of-timeout play-calling right now but I’ll refrain.  After all, DeRozan was having a great passing game as well. He had 12 assists and putting the ball in his hands wasn’t exactly a bad idea, no matter what his shortcomings as a ball-handler.

It’s heartbreaking, but when you view this game in context it’s good news: a back-t0-back game on the road against one of the NBA’s best and you’re down 19 on account of a slow start; most teams fold, not the Raptors.  The intensity picked up in the second half and they were rewarded with a chance to win the game, and on any other night the Raptors get a shot off on that last possession and then it’s up in the air.  There’s strength of character on this team, in year’s past that 17-point halftime lead would’ve turned to 30 by the third, and reduced to 22 through a meaningless fourth quarter run led by Alan Anderson.  This time around we take it down to the wire and only enhance our reputation around the league and the confidence of every member.  This squad is a joy to watch, not because they’re great at all times, but because you know they’re never out. And honestly, if it weren’t for a couple questionable calls and missed technical fouls, this game was ours.

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. No letups in Sacramento and Utah.

  • c_bcm

    demar’s handles….my lord. What a mess. All Star eh?

    • cdub

      um yea 36pts 12 assists? they wouldn’t even be in a position to win if it wasn’t for him.

      • c_bcm

        true. But how many times has he bounced that friggin’ ball off his foot in those situations? I wasn’t even surprised when it happened. I expect it now.

        • What the

          dude relax please “I expect it now” before the game did you expect the Raptors to win? I have it marked as a lost since Oct. but it would have been nice to get the win. the Raw kid is still learning.

          • c_bcm

            Actually, no I didn;t expectthe mto win…and I was right.

            • What the

              so easy on DD is all I’m saying you have to watch how you talk about him, he’s an allstar and tell Nilanka15,Tim W.,fLUXLand and DDlewis to respect that… trust me #10 jersey will one day hang in the ACC mark my words.

              • c_bcm

                Why do I need to watch what I say about him? Listen. I love the guy. Works hard, puts the time in, to the point where he is considered a top guard in the East. He has put this team on his shoulders many times and carried us to wins. No one disputes any of these facts. But one thing he hasn’t shown any ability to do yet is perform with the game on the line. There is always some brain fart, like bouncing the ball off his foot (which happens often enough). I am disappointed, but not surprised. Its up to him to show us differently.

                • c_bcm

                  I understand that success can seem like a moving target sometimes. This time last year we were elated by these kinds of losses. But the bar has moved. Close losses against top teams are not going to cut it anymore, especially when we can’t even run the play that gives us a chance to win. So I am sorry to all the Demar, Amir, JV, and Ross apologists out there. But failing to execute at the end of what was surprisingly a winnable game is not acceptable. Continuing to expect more is what drives people in this world. That also applies to the fans of professional sports.

                • d_1212

                  he did execute on the play before that, and should have been shooting free throws.

                • Tanks-a-lot

                  You are expecting a level of cohesiveness not found in a team that hasn’t had a couple of years of puke drills under their belt.

                • raptorstand

                  I smell a septic tanker coming up after a loss. Something smells.

                • What the

                  nah it’s just Tank commander LT. Fluxland on paTROLL hating the ALLSTAR name ((((DeMar)))) WOW the millions and millions of fans that had to prepare for the ALLSTAR name DeMAR this season,he should thank them for voting him in as reserve ain’t that right LT. by the way LT. who was the allstar on your team again?

                • FLUXLAND

                  “Close losses against top teams are not going to cut it anymore” – I don’t know about that. That bar has never been raised. At all.

                  The cycle of hitting rock bottom and getting to “close losses against top teams” is so well ingrained in the fanbase, that it believes that bar is the equivalent of an elite level team.

                • What the

                  i know as you are a LAKERS fan that you are use to your hero KOBE doing his thing with .001 left on the clock but you must understand that our ALLSTAR name Demar is not there yet, I know that you see a little bit of your hero Kobe in our ALLSTAR thats why ya here but the thing is LT.he ain’t done yet

                • FLUXLAND

                  I cannot wait to see him in the playoffs, when the whistles get swallowed, the gifted trips to the line disappear and the pressure of the playoffs is upon him… who knows.. maybe he’s one of those guys that plays better during the real season. I doubt it.

                • raptorstand

                  How are the Lakers doing Fluxo? They cant be tanking hard enough for you huh? Go troll somewhere else Timmy.

                • FLUXLAND

                  The Lakers are doing just fine…call me when they get a better pick in the draft than the Raps and KLove signs with them.

                • raptorstand

                  I couldn’t give a flying f about the lakers neve have never will. But you seem to be trolling pretty hard on some team that nobody has heard of or cares about north of the border. Who gives a shit what a troll thinks.

                • FLUXLAND

                  You asked, so clearly you are a closet Laker fan. It’s OK. You don’t have to hide behind all that tough talk..embrace your love for the Lakers, raptorstunk.

                • raptorstand

                  Comprehension is a wonderful thing , and I have never met a troll that has less of it .

                • FLUXLAND

                  Not agreeing with you = troll. Glad we cleared that up. Thanks.

                • raptorstand

                  Running down our players = troll. Trolls never have anything good to say about anything . Just really happy to shit on other teams sites. Just another boring troll . Your negativity is all you got.

                • FLUXLAND

                  LOLOLOL.. thanks for confirming the delusional state and thanks for the laughs. Cheers, mate.

                • raptorstand

                  Laughing hysterically when you read the truth ?? whatever blows your hair back , troll , and I aint your fing mate, troll.

                • What the

                  may be that will keep you busy watching your team the Lakers, I’ll miss you LT. now if only NY could get it going so that mr.DDLewis can go back to his team and with Tim W MIA since uttering the lies about the ALLSTAR name DeMAR I hope it’s no sniper s#it going on the dudes is in a tank he should be safe ain’t that right LT.

                • William Lou
                • c_bcm

                  Right? Dude needs to man up and stop being so soft with the ball. He does so many things well, but this one is a biggie.

                • FLUXLAND

                  I don’t even think I can stretch it to “does so many things well”.

                • What the

                  Are you talking about the ALLSTAR name DeMar who the millions upon millions of people/fans all over the world voted in as reserve how could the fans do this? you know there is really no weight behind it when one get voted in by the fans, if he had gotten voted in now by people who knows about basket ball then we’d be talking ain’t that right LT. BLAM ina u mout !

                • jsoul780

                  Um…reserves aren’t voted in by fans.

                • What the

                  This is what the boys need LT. the boys will be getting the experince just like the Pacers did a few years ago

              • FLUXLAND

                He’s an All Star RESERVE… and a debatable one, at that. (Likely a one time wonder.)

                It’s simply criminal he’s in and Lance Stephenson (who’s actually been to the playoffs and plays on the best team in the NBA) got left out.

                And if his jersey ends up hung at the ACC… I mean, yikes… the guy has done NOTHING… so, I guess that would be fitting from MLSE.

                • raptorstand

                  Its a great day for the fluxland !!! The Raptors come back from 19 and the ingrained losing of the franchise happens once again huh flux? One game really ???? really?? The pickings are few and far between to come on and shit on the screen huh flux? I wont begrudge an old tanker his due. But it sure is nice to have my mind made up on you . Just a Troll.

                • c_bcm

                  One game? You realize this is a ~0.500 team right?

                • FLUXLAND

                  No, according to him this is an elite team. Nothing before this season matters.. in fact, it’s like it never happened at all.

                • raptorstand

                  What the f you babbling about troll. never said this was an elite team, We have been a fing horrible basketball team for along time , we have a little success and some fans here are enjoying it. You must be so fing proud to come on here and shit on fans that have watched a losing team for years , but I expect nothing less from troll scum.

                • FLUXLAND

                  Typical homer cheering for “little success” in the regular season. Expect nothing less from blind homers.

                • What the

                  and LT.nothing before this season should matter you have a new GM comming in casey and the starting 5 needs to audition for MU my LAKERS friend it’s like it never happen at all, for me the season started after the rudy gay trade I know you weren’t around then your Lakers team were probrably doing good back then so you didn’t make an effort to watch the team you just know our ALLSTAR from the dunk contest a few years ago. No LT. our ALLSTAR name DeMAR is not like yor Kobe but we like him

                • raptorstand

                  My point was , we have been winning , and now that we lose a close one fluxdouche comes on this site and runs down our players after a loss. He doesn’t really like to comment after the Raptors have a nice game and win. Once again my point is 1 game and hes just so happy to run down our team. I hope you can comprehend that .

                • FLUXLAND

                  So just because someone doesn’t cheer for mediocrity like you do, they are a troll. Please, spare me.

                  As far as commenting when they are “winning”… that’s not true at all, while there’s plenty to address even during those “wins”. Not something a blind homer like you would understand.

                • FLUXLAND

                  Son, calm down. One game? What are you talking about? 20 years of the same old same old. You are the only one running around talking about “It’s the dawn of a new era”..” DD is elite” “TR = MJ”… over a 0.500 team, halfway through a season, with no direction. (nice sample size)

                  Plenty to discuss (or what you, “the real fan”, call shitting on), but that’s useless with you because you’ve already made up your mind about everything and any suggestion to the contrary makes you irate. Calm yourself and take off your pink glasses.

                • raptorstand

                  Never said dawn of a new era, never said dd is elite, I never said tr = mj and I have not made up my mind on anything. All of your points are bogus and you pick fly shit out of pepper completly out of context. But what the f would I expect from a troll. Go f yourself.

                • FLUXLAND

                  Posting under different handles is still you, friendo. And all that rage…you’re gonna give yourself a stroke. I’m worried about you… please seek help.

                • raptorstand

                  A troll is a troll is a troll, anything you say means completely nothing on this site. I always post on this handle troll unlike trolls, I’m a very happy person , trolls are just meat to be spit on.

                • truth be told

                  You need to relax bro. lol

                  I can tell you are not all together. Sounding like Richard Sherman on the Skip Bayless show.lol

                • raptorstand

                  <————-most relaxed person you could possibly get. I don' t mind people coming on the site and having opinions and debate. but to be continuously negative over and over , running down our team and trying to get a rise that's just troll shit, and fluxdouche is a major troll . Trolls get what they come for , l'll be there Huckleberry , nobody else seems to want to throw the trolls off the site.

                • What the

                  Here is the thing with you LT. and also captain Tim is you guys want to blow up the house before seeing if there is anybody inside and that LT. is not wise. It is very very wise of Col.MU to do what he’s doing, first finding out what we have in the house (casey and starters) over a season, you seen LT. FLUXLAND mybe the Col. hasn’t been watching the RAPS for the last 3 year like you and the captain, so I think it is wise for him to wait and see what he’s got first don’t you?…cause the next thing you know he blows up the house BLAM!! DeMar is an ALLSTAR hay Kyle most improve Casey COY it all can happen but Col. MU needs to see whats in the house, at ease LT. carry on.

                • FLUXLAND

                  lololol.. you’re buying kool aid and don’t know it.

                • what the

                  we jus getten started LT. you and captain Tim keep on spreading these lies about the ALLSTAR name Demar, please tell me why so many millions and million of fans all over the world voted him in as a reserve, that rule needs to be change don’t you think so LT.

                • FLUXLAND

                  Because they are sheep that don’t understand the game?

                • What the

                  what you a Indi fan now? Stephenson should blame the millions and millions of fans that didn’t vote him in as a reserve i bet it was a tough choice for the fans to make hehehe!

        • raptorstand

          troll

          • c_bcm

            I see. Troll because I am trying to involve myself in a debate. Nice one.

    • Bryan Colangelo

      Chalk to up to learning the hard way. Demar is exactly the type of player that will be working on his handles all summer just so he never loses that way again.

      • c_bcm

        I hope so. But this has been a problem his entire career. He put higher priority on shooting that mid-range and the 3. Granted, these open up his game. But the guys needs to learn to hang onto that ball.

        • CJT

          Not saying that I disagree with you on his handles needing improvement, but he did run that play pretty successfully about 10 times in a row to get them back in to the game, each time not losing the handle. I know this time was painful because the game was on the line, but in the past he would have lost a bunch of the other ones as well. He has made progress on his handles and hopefully will continue to work on it. There are a bunch of things I think they could have done on that play to create a better opportunity of winning that game and I think that they will explore those for the next time they are in that situation. I years past they didn’t have many options to create a decent look and I think now they do and just need to use them.

    • morgan c

      I hate the word handles. It’s stupid sounding. It’s his ball-handling / dribbling.

      • c_bcm

        Ha. I guess so. It was a lazy colloquialism. But point taken.

  • Val Jasme

    if it’s valanciunas there contesting shot of lillard over hayes.. i wonder what might have happened…

    • Steve Lam

      JV was useless out there as a defender last night. and you dont want a JV vs lillard matchup anyway. that would be just embarrassing for the tall slow lithuanian.

      • nickfromtime

        i think you have to expect them to go for a two when they are only down one with under 24 to go, and when you consider this, having hayes on the court makes zero sense. i mean in that situation you have to have someone who is capable of even decent shot altering/contesting… or at least someone with a 2 inch> vertical. these are the types of crunch time coaching lapses from casey that just irritate me. you have to be prepared for them to go for an easy two… you gotta have even that much foresight… idc how well hayes was playing at that point he isnt going to have much positive impact on the defensive end that jonas couldnt with a possession to go, and let’s not even get into how much of an offensive liability he is. totally disagree with his presence on the court in both final plays

        • Roarque

          I’m guessing but I suspect that Casey couldn’t believe how Chuck got inside Aldridge’s head and was afraid to take him off the court. LaMarcus Aldridge was reduced to a puddle of sweat by Chuck Hayes – it was astounding. With Chuck on the bench Portland would have fed the post and Aldridge would have been the star instead of Lillard. Great game for 20 minutes.

      • Ghotte

        And JV had already been torched a couple times before when he had to step out and challenge an on-rushing player

      • Val Jasme

        he is taller than hayes.. he just have to raise his two hands… and shot might have changed.. just my opinion though….

  • mountio

    Great comeback. I went to bed after the 3rd (ya, Im old) – only to wake up to nice PVR of the 4th and the comeback … a very pleasant surprise.
    A couple of things
    – TR was lost all game. Maybe hometown jitters, but he had a quick trigger all night and wasnt getting set and also wasnt shooting from his normal spots (ie more off the first pass at the high wing as opposed to corners (give POR credit for not giving us many corner 3s)
    – DD was great in the comeback (truly great) – but the iso for DD is a bad play call (especially the 2nd time with only 5 secs). If you are going to settle for a long pull up J in that instance, KL is a much better option
    – TH struggled in the first half, ya, but I would have brought him back a little in the 2nd. Hayes did a very nice job, but was gassed

    Lillard is really impressive. Blows by his man for a joke, hits jumpers, gets to the rim. Solid, solid player.

    All in all, cant complain given the first half, where we were totally outclassed. Love the fight this team has … most teams wouldve packed it in

  • Tanks-a-lot

    I didn’t realize a jump ball could be called on a ‘reach around’

    • Ion66

      This is why I avoid public showers.

      • ezz_bee

        hahaha beauty.

  • Age

    On that last defensive play with lowry and 2Pat, i wonder if Patterson’s injury a few plays previous had anything to do with him not being aggressive on Lliard on the pick so lowry could get back in front of Lliard when he turned around the pick. Patterson needed to step more into Lliard instead he half-stepped it and bumped lowry and hence Lliard drove to basket and scored.

    Either way, love the fight on our raps and the defense in the 2nd half is what our team is building on. Makes us be able to compete with any team

  • Ds

    My beef is with in-game adjustments. It seems that the Casey makes the proper adjustments always at half-time. What are timeouts for?

    • lewro

      yeah, i was streaming the portland tv coverage and stotts was working like crazy to draw up plays and then they cut to casey and he wan’t doing much. looked like he was just saying things like – we got this, remember we practiced/talked about at halftime. but there were pauses in between these outburts where his head seemed to be on a swivel panning his gaze outside of the huddle. anyway, i was struck by the contrast of huddles.

    • Ghotte

      In the game previous to the Portland game the defensive intensity switch was flicker during a 3rd qtr timeout. You’re using those generalizations quite literally

  • joe

    You should drop that blocker in the bottom right of the forums now, anybody who hasn’t been prompted to register isn’t going to do it now. You just have to wonder at decisions sometimes.

    • joe

      Good job guys.

  • Rupert

    Watching the game all you wanted was to get a shot off because in that forth it felt like we didnt miss

  • What the

    Come on Arse give me a better headline than that, something like the Raptors tried to Claw their way back form 19 points down but ran out of CLAWS …where was my boy Mj Vas ?

  • ad

    Its ok. The team fought hard on a 2nd night of a back to back against a top west team on the road. I’ll take it. Raps now need to take care of business against utah and sac. It would give them their first winning west coast trip in I dont know how long.

  • ih8vasquez

    When they replayed Kyle’s fowl it looked like there was 1.3 on the clock not 0.01

    • ckh26

      It was a ducking bad fowl call.

      • ezz_bee

        What’s with the bird puns? It’s foul. EFF OH YOU EL not EFF OH DOUBLE-YOU EL

  • RaptorsAnalyst

    It would really be helpful if you guys can help us start up this new page we created for you guys to get the latest news on updates around the NBA! Like our page “NBA Vision” on Facebook for the latest news and updates! https://www.facebook.com/the.nba.vision

    • ezz_bee

      Shameless self-promotion… mods should remove if possible.

  • Philoveritas

    I didn’t expect them to win this game. And heck after how flat they were to start I almost turned the game off. I Kkpt at it and so did the Raptors. Demar took the game over but man I put the loss all on Casey. If there is one thing Demar is not that is the guy you want taking the last shot. Some guys are good at that(Kobe, Ray Allen, Dirk) but Derozan isn’t even Vince Carter kinda clutch(50/50 on game winners). Every one in the building was expecting the play, especially after running it unsuccessfully the play before. They had a time out in-between and Casey still couldn’t even draw up a play. Give it to Lowry, heck even Patterson came through in Brooklyn. Maybe I have smoked my memory out but I can’t for the life of me remember Demar hitting a last second game winner, though I certainly remember his number being called a few times. I do recall reading an article here that shows that the numbers agree with me that Demar is not a closer…

  • Guest

    he is taller than hayes.. he just have to raise his two hands… and shot might have changed.. just my opinion though