TORONTO - Different script but same result.
That was Dwane Casey’s take on the Raptors' 94-84 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
On the team’s recent three-game road trip, the Raptors twice played solid basketball for the first three quarters only to lose in the fourth.
Friday against the Trail Blazers the script was flipped. A poor first quarter followed by three pretty decent one’s.
“It’s kind of a tale of who we are right now,” Casey said. “Either we play the first three quarters hard and give up the fourth, or like (Friday night) I thought we started off soft.”
‘Soft’ is actually a nice way to put it. The Raps only barely outscored LaMarcus Aldridge in the first, getting two more points as a team than the 12 the face of the Blazers’ franchise scored.
It was like the Raps had taken it upon themselves to ensure the all-star slight Aldridge suffered last season would not be repeated.
After 12 minutes he had 12 points and six boards and the Trail Blazers had a 27-14 lead.
On at least two occasions over the remaining three quarters, the Raptors got that deficit down to just five points but could get no closer.
“I thought Portland came out the way you should, aggressive, into us and we didn’t respond until the second quarter.
“Once we did, we played well, but again, it’s a four-quarter game. The mark of a young team is learning how to play those four quarters and once we do that, I think we’re going to be a good team.”
The Raptors now embark on a five-game road swing that begins with a practice in Los Angeles on Saturday before a date with the Clippers on Sunday afternoon.
Casey said he hopes to have Andrea Bargnani back on the practice floor on Saturday which would be a huge move for a team that has averaged just 77 points a night in his absence.
Bargnani has missed five games with a strained left calf. His departure from the lineup has not surprisingly coincided with a huge drop in offensive production. When he went down with injury, Bargnani was averaging 22.3 points a night in addition to 6.5 rebounds.