The Trail Blazers embraced small-ball versus the Toronto Raptors Monday.
And it wasn’t completely by choice.
Once Trail Blazers starting center Jusuf Nurkic left the game with a left quad contusion, Portland went with the smaller lineup more often than not.
Except to start the fourth, when Harry Giles was interested into the lineup. Having a true center helped Portland on that glass; however, it was Portland's hot shooting from three (thanks to Carmelo Anthony and Damian Lillard), along with its timely stop in the final possession that helped the Blazers secure a 112-111 come from behind victory.
The Raptors came out firing while Pascal Siakam showed his dominance early.
At the end of the first quarter, Toronto led 32-21.
Portland’s small-ball lineup which included Robert Covington at center in the third quarter and down the stretch, found themselves down 10 heading into the fourth.
The Trail Blazers also struggled from the field early on. Portland’s backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for five points in the first quarter, but Carmelo Anthony got hot late and Covington stopped a game-winning attempt in the paint to seal the victory.
But in a game that only had five lead changes and the chance of a victory looked slim for the Blazers most of the night, Portland still stuck around.
Even after getting thrashed at the rim and from behind the arc, Portland was only down five at the break. Which seemed nearly impossible after the way the second quarter started.
CJ McCollum continued his hot shooting from behind the arc. Even with a taller Stanley Johnson or OG Anunoby switched on him, McCollum was able to break free and get up quality threes. He finished the night with five threes, while leading all scorers with 30 points.
Portland pushed through its early struggles and once again it was Lillard and Melo's clutch shooting to the rescue.
It must be noted once again -- The Raptors’ frontcourt length gave the Blazers problems on both ends. Toronto went smaller though to start the second half with Chris Boucher instead of Alex Len. The former Duck scored 20 on the night. He was averaging 13.7 points entering Monday's game.
Pascal Siakam had his way with smaller defenders in Robert Covington and Rodney Hood. Siakam scored eight of the Raptors first 13 points after posting up Covington and taking it hard to the rim.
When Kanter subbed in for Jusuf Nurkic with 3:14 remaining in the first quarter, Nurkic headed straight to the locker room. He did not return to the game after suffering a left quad contusion.
When Nurkic went out, Toronto opened up the game in the second quarter before the Blazers charged back late in the first half.
Portland went even smaller later in the third with Covington at the five and Carmelo Anthony at the four. Despite giving up so much size and, thus rebounds, the Blazers were never completely out of the game.
Minutes before suffering a quad contusion, Jusuf Nurkic threw down an emphatic dunk with the assist from CJ McCollum.
Just as it is for many of the Trail Blazers opponents, the Raptors’main focus was working to make Lillard’s life as difficult as possible and they did just that. The Trail Blazers point guard committed seven turnovers by the midway point of the fourth quarter.
Next up: The Trail Blazers head back down to Sacramento to face the Kings for the second time in three games. Portland and Sacramento will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. PST Wednesday on NBCSNW.