Monday, December 5, 2022
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Preview: Toronto Raptors (7-7) at Portland Trail Blazers (6-8)

The Toronto Raptors will open a six-game road trip Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers and they feel that the timing could not be better.

They have dropped four of their past five games, including a 127-121 loss to the visiting Detroit Pistons on Saturday to fall to 2-6 at home. They are 5-1 on the road.

“Seems like we haven’t played nearly as good defense at home as we’ve played on the road,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “The record probably points directly to that. … We’re not sure why. We should have more energy and juice feeding off our home crowd and flying around a little bit more. But we haven’t seemed to lock in, I guess, I would say, a businesslike or professional-like attitude at home for some reason.”

Toronto does not play at home again until Nov. 28.

The Raptors will be facing a Trail Blazers team that lost 124-95 to the Denver Nuggets Sunday night, completing a 1-3 road trip.

Damian Lillard missed his first game of the season for Portland on Sunday with an abdominal injury.

The Raptors played Saturday without Fred VanVleet (groin). Nurse said VanVleet should be returning “fairly soon.”

Pascal Siakam had 25 points and 12 rebounds in 35 minutes Saturday in his third game since returning from offseason shoulder surgery for a torn labrum. Playing time restrictions applied during the early stages of his return have been lifted.

Siakam feels that having the same group together on the court will help the team mesh.

“I just feel like we have to continue to learn, we have to take every game with the same approach,” Siakam said. “And I think that comes with experience. We’ve got to continue to get better and make sure we pay attention to details because those are important; it’s going to win you a game every single night.

“So we have to be really focused on that. And I thought (Saturday) we made a lot of little mistakes that cost us the game. That’s something that we have to continue to grow and learn from, and I think we will get better.”

Siakam recorded his first career triple-double (22 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) on Jan. 11 at Portland.

The Trail Blazers have won three in a row over the Raptors since losing at home to them, 114-106, on Nov. 13, 2019.

Lillard aggravated his abdominal injury on Tuesday during the loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Lillard played in the loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday and logged 38 minutes during the 104-92 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday. He has said that the injury recurs each season, but subsides.

Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said Lillard is day-to-day. Greg Brown also missed the game Sunday with a sprained ankle.

CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 21 points on Sunday. Former Raptor Norman Powell scored 13 points.

“I don’t think we came to compete in this game,” Billups said. “I mean, this is a team that beat us in the playoffs last year. And we come and don’t even compete in the first quarter. I was kind of a little disappointed in that effort. But you can’t control if shots will or won’t go down. We had some good looks. But just no fight, no fight.”

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