The Toronto Raptors find themselves back in the win column following a win in Portland 114-106. The team improves to 8-3 over their first 11 games of the season, continuing to improve as they hold the second best record in the Eastern Conference. Pascal Siakam shined again, leading all scorers with 36 points, while Fred VanVleet added his own impressive 30-point performance to the mix. 

Smothering Stars

Rodney Hood had the hot hand for the Trail Blazers with 25 points on 60% shooting as the Raptors once again did an excellent job of taking the opposing team’s leading scorer out of the equation. Damian Lillard was nearly invisible offensively, scoring only 9 points on 16.7% shooting. He is the third consecutive elite scorer to perform poorly against this Raptors defence. Lillard’s performance follows LeBron James’ 13 points on 33.3% shooting on Sunday night and Kawhi Leonard’s 12 points and 9 turnovers on 18.2% efficiency on Monday night. 

Coach Nick Nurse has made the team’s defensive intentions very clear; showing a heavy focus on taking the ball out of the opposition’s star player’s hand and forcing the rest of the team to make shots. The Trail Blazers took 79 jump shots in the contest, a significant difference from the 14 lay-ups the team attempted. They paid the price for their lack of aggressiveness by shooting an insufficient 40% in the loss. 

Impact off the Bench

The Raptors’ bench once again had an impressive performance in last night’s win. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Terence Davis had inspired showings, combining for 31 points. Hollis-Jefferson proved to be an absolute monster on the offensive glass, having eight of his eleven rebounds coming on the offensive end and creating a multitude of second chance opportunities for the Raptors throughout the contest. 

The Raptors 15 second chance points against Portland nearly doubled their season average of 8.2 per game and this proved to be valuable down the stretch in what was ultimately a tight contest game. The hustle, aggressiveness and rebounding will prove to be invaluable moving forward and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been showing his worth as an impact player on this team.

Scoring Woes

Marc Gasol made three shots out of his attempted ten in the contest for a total of 9 points. This has been a trend for him so far this season as he has struggled to put the ball in the basket, despite his elite 41.2% shooting from behind the arc. The champion big man is shooting a paltry 32.4% (a career low) from inside the three point line and has looked hesitant to assert himself offensively. While his play-making from the high post is top notch and his floor spacing is a valuable asset, the Raptors can only hope he finds his scoring touch. Gasol making his shots would only serve to take this team to another level offensively for a team that has already impressed on that side of the ball. 

The Raptors will find themselves in an exciting match-up against an electrifying Dallas Mavericks team lead by a surging Luka Doncic. The two teams will match up on November 16th at 8:30PM/EST in what will surely be an exciting game.