Trail Blazers overtake Raptors as Powell shows potential with Portland

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Trail Blazers overtake Raptors as Powell shows potential with Portland


The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t need Norman Powell to get revenge on his former team. And they didn’t have to worry about the new Toronto Raptors causing them problems.
Nope. Portland had too many guns and the Raptors were overtaken and overwhelmed in the first meeting between the two teams who tapped into one of the most high-profile moves on Thursday’s trade deadline day. Portland left Tampa Bay with a 122-117 victory that was both hard-fought and seemingly never in doubt once the Trail Blazers took control midway through the third quarter.

Playing his first game against the team he had played with his entire six-year career, Powell finished with just 13 points and took six shots in 27 minutes, while Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr., who came in the other way around. , had 19 points – 13 and six, respectively. Trent Jr. started out and ended up keeping Powell, and vice versa, but the pre-game subplot never really materialized in any meaningful way, except for a moment in the third quarter when the emotions have bubbled up a bit.

Powell interrupted a dribble at the top of the circle midway through the third quarter and mistook it the other way for a dunk, making sure to watch the Raptors bench as he spun back. The game put Portland ahead and they never lagged behind again.

“I thought he was looking at me, but he said no,” said Fred VanVleet, his good friend. “I told him, ‘I didn’t trade you. I don’t know why you are mad at me. But Norm is such an emotional guy in a good way. He wears his heart on his sleeve and it was good to see him. It was really weird playing against him, but obviously we wish him nothing but the best for the future.

The game tightened in the home stretch. The Raptors lost 11 points with 7:40 remaining and came back to one point with 2:28 remaining before Blazers goaltender CJ McCollum scored seven quick points. But the Raptors reduced him to five with 26 seconds left and stayed alive when Powell missed two free throws that could have frozen him. Powell ripped his shirt off in frustration. But after VanVleet passed Powell for a layup to make it a three-point game, the latter made his next two free throws and Toronto couldn’t pull off a minor miracle in the dying seconds.

Otherwise, Powell made slow faults in the first half – a familiar theme – and never rode as Toronto knows he can.

The Raptors did well against Portland’s Damian Lillard and McCollum, holding one of the league’s best backcourts at 43 points, about 22 below their combined season average. But Portland had five other double-digit players, including all of their starting lineup. It looked like Toronto was trying to plug holes everywhere and when one was covered another opened.

“It’s tough man, but you’ve got to pull something off,” said VanVleet, who scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter but was only 3 of 13 off the floor in the other three periods. . “I thought for the most part we were keeping Dame pretty well, 7 for 21, I think he’s shooting a pretty good percentage, so we made it difficult for him. He had a lot in the second half. CJ had at least six or eight by the end of the fourth. We’ve kept these guys pretty well. It’s just Derrick Jones 7 for 9, (Enes) Kanter 5 for 8, some of these guys did some big hits, but you’ve got to give up something. We’re selling by trying to take out two of the league’s top scorers and we just have to do a better job of rotating and cleaning up the offensive glass and things like that. Overall, we are fighting pretty hard. It’s just at one point that we have to turn the switch here to see how we can clean it. ”

The Raptors had 26 points and eight rebounds from Pascal Siakam and 19 points from OG Anunoby, although his seven turnovers hurt him. They were clearly missing an offensive punch at times, not only with Powell playing for the other team, but with Kyle Lowry having a sore foot. Pat McCaw (knee) and DeAndre Bembry and Paul Watson (health and safety protocols) were also absent.

The Raptors fell to 18-28 with the loss, which is their 13th loss in their last 15 games and leaves them mired in 11th place. Portland improved to 28-18.

The game was played in the third quarter when the Raptors offense fell off a cliff. After climbing a seven halfway through the period, the Raptors managed just one basket in the next five minutes and found themselves down 10 as Portland held a 19-2 inning that was over. indicative of Toronto’s offensive woes than what the Trail Blazers were doing offensively. Toronto limited Portland to just 37 percent in the third, but still fell behind shooting just 4 of 22 and scoring 10 points.

Powell didn’t exactly put on a show against his old team, but it takes little imagination to see how his ability to score at a high rate with the type of efficiency that harmonizes well with other high scorers. use will make the Trail Blazers a tough one in the playoffs.

The Trail Blazers, after seeing Powell score 22 points on 13 shots in his debut on Friday, see big things to come and a chance to double down on one of the heaviest attacks in the NBA.

“I think the quality of the shots, the quality of our three-point shots will improve,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “Because of him I think the only thing he really adds besides the shot is that he moves really well without the ball and when Dame and CJ are able to penetrate he will find some open spots. So I think from an offensive point of view it makes us even more difficult to keep.

The half couldn’t have worked better for the Raptors, and, in particular, those with a vested interest in the trade working in their favor as they led 41-32 after the first quarter and 74-68 in the mid -time.

With Powell likely to decline his player option and move on to free will, Toronto had to figure out what the market might be for someone who averaged 21 points per game and shot 45% from three starts of 58 to last season. The concern was that Powell would buy a deal in the range of $ 18-20 million a year and that Toronto didn’t want to have to go that high for a player he deemed increasingly one-dimensional due to his concern for the detail. the defense faded as his attacking play developed.

As if at the right time, Powell made two quick faults, one was beaten on the spot by Trent Jr., whom he began to guard, then a reckless reach against his old friend Siakam who saw Powell heading towards the front bench. the game had five minutes. Any possibility of Powell showing his former team with one of his first-quarter landmarks was out of the window.

Better to replace his production with younger Trent Jr. and maybe even a rehabilitated Hood, who averaged 13 points per game and provided strong, switchable defense over the previous six seasons in Utah, Cleveland. and Portland before tearing up his Achilles at the start of the 2019. -20 season.

If there had been an encouraging development for the Raptors that night, maybe it was Hood, who looks more like a good addition both ways and more like the player who averaged 13 points per game in the over the previous eight seasons than whoever struggled. to find his confidence in his return from the devastating injury. His best moment came just before half-time when he tracked down Lillard in a check, sprinted the ground to prepare for a three-turn, and knocked him down – with a fist pump – just before the horn.

“I think that could be an important part of the job,” Nurse said. “In some ways it already looks like what it could be and I think it gives some flexibility to some captions and is a bit bigger around the edges.”

At this point in the Raptors’ season, they’ll take their light spots wherever they can find them.

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