Unfortunate End

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Melo, Blazers Use Big Fourth Quarter to Beat Undermanned Raptors

The Toronto Raptors played a spectacular first half.

They played a strong third quarter as well. Undermanned, yet refusing to bend. Hell, you probably saw more blazers on the Raptors bench than on the floor on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately, the Raptors were unable to close it out. Outscored 32-21 in the final frame, a Carmelo Anthony dagger with three seconds remaining in regulation spelled the end for what could have been a remarkable first home game of the decade for the Raptors. Leading for the overwhelming majority of the game, the Raptors fell to the Blazers by a score of 101-99.

“I think the stat of the night is this: We started five completely different guys in Portland when we beat ’em out there,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, referring to the team’s early season win in Portland. “I don’t know if you can do that in a two-month span very often.”

Although they were able to slow down the Blazers star backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Anthony was able to re-discover a fountain of youth, finishing the night with 28 points. On the Raptors side, Kyle Lowry pulled the load finishing with 24 points and 10 assists. Serge Ibaka added 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss, while the team’s Canadian duo of Oshae Brissett and Chris Boucher combined for 24 points off the bench.

Nevertheless, the reigning champions did not have the personnel necessary to close out what had the potential to be a hard-fought win.

“I just want us to go out there and play with an honest effort,” said Nurse. “I think through those nine games, I’d say probably seven of them we have … even in Miami, we couldn’t have shot the ball any worse, maybe, historically, probably the worst shooting performance in Raptor history (it was that as they shot 6-of-42 from three). But we played hard. We still played pretty well, other than we just couldn’t get the darn thing to go in.

“The other ones, all the other games, have either been a win or a loss late. So, yeah, I think, to me, that’s all I want to do. I want to go out and let you know we’re guarding you, that we’re trying to take away things you like, and that we’re doing our best for the offence to go in the direction it needs, to go through the right people, and then have some other guys chip in. Then I can live with that.”

The trio of Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell remain out. Rookie Dewan Hernandez is unavailable as well due to injury. Fred VanVleet, who was believed to be dealing with a minor hamstring injury, will now require some time to heal up. The Raptors are playing without three starters and a key contributor off the bench.

All together, through the first 37 games of the season, the Raptors players have lost an outrageous 128 games due to injury.

The Raptors get back to it on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Hornets, but then receive some much needed time off and don’t play again until Sunday. It will be interesting to see whether the Raptors are able to receive any sort of boost by then.

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