Toronto Raptors’ fourth-quarter comeback falls short, losing 128-122 to the Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard had 24 points as the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a two-game slide with a confidence-boosting 128-122 victory over the NBA-leading Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

Zach Collins scored 16 points and Seth Curry added a season-high 13, including three key 3-pointers at the start of the fourth quarter. Additionally, both were part of a Portland bench that outscored Toronto’s reserves 58-26.

Kawhi Leonard returned after missing two games and had 28 points for the Raptors (23-8), who played without All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Danny Green added 19 points and 11 rebounds, matching his season high with five 3s.

Portland led by 16 in the fourth quarter but Leonard and C.J. Miles made consecutive 3s to pull the Raptors to 117-113 with 2:44 left.

Lillard hit a 3-pointer for Portland before Leonard had another 3 and Fred VanVleet made a layup to get Toronto to 120-118. Before CJ McCollum and Al Farouq-Aminu answered with consecutive 3s to extend Portland’s lead to 126-118 with just under a minute to go. Leonard dunked on the other end, but the Raptors couldn’t get any closer.

Portland was in first place in the Western Conference after beating Washington on the road back on Nov. 18 to improve to 11-5. But the team lost eight of 11 going into Friday night’s game to tumble into ninth in the conference.

Meanwhile, the Raptors had lost just three previous games on the road this season.

The victory snapped a six-game Portland losing streak to the Raptors.

Lowry sat out with a left thigh bruise. Meaning VanVleet started in his place and finished with 21 points.

Lowry led the Raptors with 23 points in a 113-93 win over Golden State on Wednesday. The victory was costly, however. Jonas Valanciunas dislocated his thumb in the game and required surgery. He will be in a cast for the next four weeks. Valanciunas was averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game.

Furthermore, the Raptors were without Pascal Siakam for all but seven minutes in the second half. This after his back tightened up after a first-half flagrant foul by McCollum put him awkwardly to the wood.

Portland was coming off a pair of losses on the road to Houston and Memphis.

The Blazers went up 42-31 in the first half after Meyers Leonard’s alley-oop dunk from Evan Turner. Portland led by as many as 13 and went into the break in front 58-50.

Leonard, who was 0 for 5 from the field in the first half, had eight points to open the third quarter and his jumper got the Raptors to 59-64. But Leonard picked up his fourth foul later in the quarter and went to the bench for a while.

OG Anunoby’s jumper closed the Raptors to 82-80 but Collins answered with a 3-pointer for the Blazers. After Portland had a 91-89 edge going into the fourth, Curry made a pair of 3-pointers and the Blazers pushed the lead to 101-90.

Curry hit another 3 to give Portland a 107-93 advantage.

“First of all, they really played great, right from the start they were super fast and cutting hard and making shots, making the right decisions and I thought we were a half-step slow out of the gate,” said Nurse. “Man, their bench was unbelievable, 58 points or something like that. They just put it on us.”

Peace,

Burke

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