Returning to the lower 48 on Thursday night, the Toronto Raptors continued their preseason schedule against the Blazers. Hoping to have a better defensive outing after giving up 121 points to the Clippers, Toronto struggled against Portland’s shooting, ultimately losing 106-101.
The team was without DeMar DeRozan, which certainly factored into this one. C.J. Miles also sat the game out, giving more opportunity for the youngsters on the back end of the training camp roster to show their stuff. In their place, freshly paid Norman Powell and Halloween truther Bruno Caboclo got the start.
Predictably, though, it was Kyle Lowry who shone the brightest. Lowry was his usual bowling ball self, on some plays going beyond what you feel comfortable seeing from your star player in the preseason. He led the team easily with 23 points, which included a very Raptors-ian 11-for-14 from the free throw line.
Outside of Lowry, it was a mixed bag. Powell had 15 points but shot just 4-of-14, showing explosion and an inability to finish in equal parts. Serge Ibaka followed up a poor outing in Honolulu with another statuesque game. The starting power forward just isn’t moving well in the preseason, and continues to be the sticking point in an otherwise free-flowing offense. Ibaka was 1-for-5 in 20 minutes, 0-for-3 from three, and allowed a lot of easy Portland buckets on the inside. Hopefully this is just a question of preseason effort.
Ibaka’s frontcourt counterpart, on the other hand, continued to show out. Jonas Valanciunas has looked comfortable this preseason, and continues to make definitive, strong moves on offense, and better positioning on the defensive end. While eight points and seven rebounds isn’t world class, the big man kept a positive trend moving forward.
Of the #ProveEm guys, Alfonzo McKinnie was a definite strong point. Two first half triples were anchor points for what was otherwise an energetic, excellent game for a player who seems to have an inside track on the 14th roster spot. McKinnie had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, adding eight rebounds and four steals(!) in a bit of a showcase game.
McKinnie’s night contrasted with starter Bruno Caboclo’s, who may have already squandered his opportunity to prove himself. All preseason, Caboclo has been a step or two slow on both ends of the floor, flailing more often than not in his forays to the basket. The ugly truth is there are others on the Raptors depth chart ready to take his spot, as the young Brazilian continues his development.
On the other side, Portland got points from 13 different players, with C.J. McCollum lighting up a +30 with 15 points (4-for-6 from three). Damian Lillard had 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting.
With a win and two losses in the preseason, the Raptors will play Detroit next Tuesday - their first game at the Air Canada Centre.