Bruce Ely - Trailblazers.com

It's tough times for our Portland Trail Blazers. They've now lost six out of their last seven games, their slowest start in years, and fans are getting uneasy. On Wednesday night they fell to the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors, a good team, but certainly beatable. Toronto is not the juggernaut they were last season, and they were missing some key players to boot. Blazer captain Damian Lillard only managed to score nine points, his lowest total of the season. There were a few bright spots and it was a close game throughout, with nine lead changes, but Toronto ran away with it in the final minutes. The score was 106-114.

Listen, we don't need to dwell too much on this game. Rodney Hood came back into the lineup and was a welcome addition, scoring a team high 25 points. Rookie Nasir Little got his first NBA start and brought some much needed energy to the power forward position. He had the tough assignment of guarding future All-Star Pascal Siakam, and did alright. Siakam scored 36 points but it wasn't all Nasir's fault.

Bruce Ely - Trailblazers.com

The Blazers jumped out to an early lead and then lost it midway through the second quarter, a pattern we've seen before. I believe this night hosted the most Raptor fans ever to visit the Moda Center. Now that they are champs their traveling fanbase has increased dramatically and Portland's relative proximately to Canada (everyone in Canada now roots for the Raptors, apparently) has made this stop popular. It was almost like when the Lakers or Warriors come to town the way cheers would erupt when the visiting team scored. The Raptors led by one, 54-53, at halftime.

Here's a look at some of the fans populating the Moda Center Wednesday night:


As I mentioned earlier, Raptors fans were in abundance. These guys drove down from Vancouver, BC for the game. "Canadian pride," they explained.

Hey look, it's creative power couple Adam Shearer and Tarina Westlund!


The second half saw the Raptors take a larger lead behind some strong play by point guard Fred VanVleet. Rodney Hood and Anfernee Simons provided some offense for the home team, but it was an uphill battle. The Raptors led by nine at the start of the fourth quarter. For a brief moment it appeared as if Lillard might kick into high gear and rescue this team yet again, but Toronto's defense swarmed him and our star guard appeared fatigued on this second night of back-to-back games. Toronto went on a devastating 14-0 run in the fourth quarter and Portland never recovered.

Bruce Ely - Trailblazers.com

This loss wouldn't be much to worry about in isolation, but the Blazers have been on a deep slide ever since the witch of November come blowing. Front court injuries have forced them to call up inexperienced players from the G league and new additions like Anthony Toliver and Mario Hezonja haven't filled in the gaps as hoped.

The Blazers now embark on a long six-game road trip where their mettle will be further tested. By the time they return to town on Nov. 27th for a game against OKC, we will likely know whether the wheels have fallen off this bus, or the ship has been righted, to mix a few metaphors. Let's close this chapter with a touching look at the brotherly reunion between the Gasol brothers, Marc and Pau, at center court. It sure would be nice to have Pau suited up in his Blazer uniform soon!

Bruce Ely - Trailblazers.com

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