The Portland Trail Blazers and the Toronto Raptors feature two of the highest-scoring backcourts in the league, and both enter the week in fine form. The Raptors will try to ride the hot hands of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to another road win when they visit Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the Trail Blazers on Monday.
DeRozan scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half and knocked down a tiebreaking jumper midway through the fourth quarter as the Raptors snapped a two-game slide with a 101-92 win at the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. “Just my mentality,” DeRozan explained to reporters. “I don’t really look at the mismatch. My mentality is to go out there and close the game. I just try to go out there and do my job.” The same could be said for Lillard, who scored 25 points on Saturday and kept his team clear in the final minute en route to a 111-107 win over the Phoenix Suns. McCollum added 23 points and six assists in the win and scored at least 23 points in each of his five games after being suspended for the season opener.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Toronto), NBCS Northwest (Portland)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (3-2): Lowry is struggling to find his shooting form and is averaging just 12.4 points on 35.5 percent shooting in the early going but is still finding ways to impact the game. The Villanova product recorded his first triple-double of the season with 11 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in Friday’s win. “He just made winning plays,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey told reporters. “It wasn’t overall scoring, whatever it was, he had trouble making buckets, but he just made winning hustle plays, rebounding. Got in there and got some big rebounds, gave up some assists, just did the little things you really don’t notice on the scoreboard to help us win. That’s who he is.”
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (4-2): Portland is shooting just 43.4 percent from the field but is limiting opponents to 42.7 percent. “Right now things aren’t falling but I think right now our defense is leading to our offense,” reserve swingman Evan Turner told the team’s website. “I think right now we’ve done a decently good job of spreading the ball around, guys stepping up making shots. I think we have a lot more guys contributing but right now it has to be more consistent.” Lillard (37 percent) and center Jusuf Nurkic (39.4 percent) are struggling the most with their shot.
1. Raptors C Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) and C Lucas Nogueria (ankle) are both questionable for Monday.
2. Trail Blazers SG Pat Connaughton is 13-of-26 from 3-point range.
3. Toronto swept the two-game series in each of the last two seasons.
PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 111, Raptors 107