Raptors beat Blazers to finish three skates

TORONTO — During the crucial 18-second stretch in the middle of the fourth round on Sunday, Fred VanVleet calmly made two catches and fired three points.

While the all-star guard has been unpopular with some Raptors fans amid his recent shooting difficulties, especially as the March 3 trade deadline approaches, the blows The veteran’s grand prix restored a 9-point lead and helped the Trail Blazers run, en route to Toronto’s 117-105 victory over Portland.

VanVleet said of his quick six: “The man was competing, just trying to win and, again, putting it all on the line. “It was a big swing there. So just playing in the moment and trying to figure out how to get it done, and we were able to do that tonight.”

Pascal Siakam scored 27 points in the Raptors’ first win in four games. Scottie Barnes finished with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while Gary Trent Jr. With 19 points, VanVleet and OG Anunoby scored 14 points for the Raptors (17-23), who won only 6 of the last 20 games.

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Damian Lillard scored 34 points for the Trail Blazers (19-20), which had lost three games in a row.

The Raptors – who have been plagued by a decline in intensity and have had a couple of frantic comebacks in the fourth quarter that still resulted in losses – have played one of their most consistent games in a while. . They took a 19-point lead in the third inning and entered the fourth with a score of 89-74.

Coach Nick Nurse said: “The good team wins. “I think a lot of people contributed, it’s a small step towards getting a lot of contributions and getting some really good, quality minutes (from the substitutes). I think the players that came on from the bench and everyone from the starting group contributed quite well.”

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The Blazers backed off, and when Lillard hit a 6:17 hit to play, the basket shortened the lead to just three points, sending the Scotiabank Arena crowd groaning. But VanVleet made them cheer again with consecutive trebles that restored the lead to nine.

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“Changes a lot of things, but it changes the most important scorecard,” Nurse said. “Those are big baskets and… this team, in the past, we’ve had this meager 4.5-point lead, coming to a crunch period and we make that big game.”

Anunoby drilled three from the front of the Raptors’ bench after Trent stole the ball from Lillard to take a 10-point lead with 3:04 to play. Anfernee Simons’ basket brought the Blazers back within five minutes with 1:40 to play, but Christian Koloko scored after a miss by Siakam, except to seal the victory for Toronto.

The Raptors, last in the league on a 3-point margin, shot 38.7% better from behind the arc, compared with the Blazers’ 30%. Portland also let the ball touch 24 times, causing them to lose 29 points.

“For us to win this game, we had to control the ball and make good shots,” said coach and former Raptor Chauncey Billups. “Twenty-nine points is too much.”

The Blazers took a six-point lead early, but the Raptors went on a 25-4 run that lasted through the first and second quarters. Koloko’s pitch at the end of the first half gave Toronto a 34-27 lead to enter the second half.

Precious Achiuwa dropped a pitch from Malachi Flynn early in the second to have a 15-point advantage. They extended it to 19 points after a three-point back throw from Trent at 7:14 in the inning. But the Blazers responded with a 20-4 score of their own, shortening the lead to just three points a minute before halftime. Toronto leads 58-53 after halftime.

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Siakam’s three-pointer less than four minutes into the third inning edged past the Raptors’ 14-0 run, giving them a 19-point lead. Simons hit three points on the whistle and the Raptors led 89-74 in the fourth inning.

VANVLEET CONTRACT COMMOTION – VanVleet made his position clear after the game about a report that he refused to extend his four-year, $114 million contract this past season.

VanVleet, who has the option to select players on this summer’s contract, said: “I will never speak about my contract negotiations or my freelance agency, especially the conversations between me and my partner. management should make sure it’s not from me. “There has never been a formal offer made. It was a joint decision by both sides that the smart thing to do was to wait.

“It was a bit misleading and I am disappointed that it came out. I don’t want it to be a distraction.”

LANGUAGE FIGHT – Video captures what looks like a fight of words between Barnes and veteran Thaddeus Young during the mid-round warm-up. Both players called it a minor disagreement.

“(Barnes) actually told me he loved me,” Young said. “I told him I love him back. You know, no different than brothers back and forth. Especially since we’re both passionate about the game. I think that’s one of the biggest things. We’re both passionate about what we’re doing, our craft, and making sure we win ourselves.”

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CAN-CON – The Raptors honored Trail Blazers and London, Ont., native Shaedon Sharpe rookie with a tribute video. The 19-year-old, who was selected 7 in the June NBA draft, finished with 3 points after 14 minutes of play.

HE. 1,200 – The mascot “The Raptor” entered his 1,200th game against the Raptors on Sunday.

NEXT – The Raptors host the Charlotte Hornets in a pair of games on Tuesday and Thursday, then wrap up their six full-season games against the Atlanta Hawks on January 14.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 8, 2023.

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