PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — The Toronto Raptors defence gave the team another reason to celebrate.
The Raptors held Damian Lillard to just nine points in a 114-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers yesterday.
Pascal Siakam scored 36 points and Fred VanVleet had 30, but the story for Toronto was a defence that made life difficult for yet another star player on their road trip.
After holding LeBron James to 13 points and Kawhi Leonard to just 12 points in their last two games, taking Lillard out of the equation was another notch on the belt for the defending champions.
“It’s the defence,” VanVleet said. “Offence comes and goes but defense has been pretty consistent for us. The good thing about our game is that most superstars are pretty unselfish so if you throw two or three guys at them they’re passing. We want to make them pass and make somebody else make shots. They’re really trying to guard from the start of the game to the end,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of his team. “I always talk about, can we execute our schemes, where we’re supposed go, and they’re doing pretty good job of that.”
Siakam scored 13 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter to help close out the Trail Blazers and help Toronto bounce back from Monday night’s loss to the LA Clippers.
“It felt like college a little bit just posting up every possession. It was fun,” Siakam said. “That hasn’t happened in a while.”
Rodney Hood led the Blazers with 25 points.
Lillard, who entered the game trailing only James Harden in points per game, had his worst outing of the season. Lillard had 2-fof-12 shooting from the field and was two of seven from three-point range. He did dish 10 assists.
“It’s the fourth team in a row to come out denying me full court. Box-and-one, I don’t remember seeing that many box-and-ones in the NBA, but I mean, they make me play against a crowd. Even when I try to get downhill and be aggressive, there’s four guys right there. The right play is to kick it ahead, get it out, that was the only option they gave me a lot of times. It’s just what it was.”
Hood stood up to the Raptors’ challenge, returning from a two-game absence with back spasms. CJ McCollum also pitched in 18 points while Anfernee Simons had 17 off the bench.
Still, the Trail Blazers once again found themselves staring at a familiar postgame script.
“I get frustrated sometimes losing games, especially losing games that we were in,” Lillard said. “If we were getting blown out, I would be getting upset about that but it wouldn’t be the same feeling.”