Killer of a quarter
Were Monday night's 99-85 loss to Toronto a fish, the Trail Blazers would have thrown it back.
The second quarter would have been deposited deep in the bottom of the ocean, right there with the acorn worms and snail droppings.
No team in franchise history has ever had a worse offensive second quarter than the Blazers did Monday night in a 99-85 loss to Toronto at Moda Center.
Portland missed 18 of its first 19 shots in the quarter. Evan Turner's rebound layup with 5.4 seconds left made it a 2-for-20 shooting performance in a 12-minute disaster the Blazers would love to erase from memory.
Funny, because the Blazers made 8 of their first 11 shots of the game and ended the first quarter tied at 29-29.
"The first quarter, the offensive part was there," said Portland coach Terry Stotts, adding sarcastically, "I'd say it sputtered a little bit in the second quarter."
Toronto's lead was 54-35 at halftime and 72-46 midway through the third quarter.
Then Damian Lillard found his offensive game.
The Blazers' point guard and floor leader scored 22 of their first 27 second-half points as the Blazers (4-3) drew to within 88-75 with seven minutes to go. But Portland got no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
"The second half, I felt like I caught a rhythm," said Lillard, who scored 25 of his season-high 36 points in the final 24 minutes. "I just wish it wasn't with us down by 20. Even if the lead was 12, I was in a good enough rhythm that we could have gotten back into it.
"We really hurt ourselves in that second quarter. To score six in a quarter, you're not giving yourself much of a chance. We pretty much played them even in the second half, but we weren't able to dig out of the hole."
Lillard, who shot .370 in Portland's first six games this season, sank 12 of 23 shots from the field and 9 of 10 from the line Monday. But he had only two rebounds and two assists with six turnovers in his 41 minutes.
His backcourt mate, CJ McCollum, struggled with his shot throughout the game. He was 3 for 5 from 3-point range but 2 for 11 inside the line and finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 gunnery.
"We've tweaked our offense, but the major emphasis is still defense," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "You're not going to stop great players like Lillard and McCollum, but our whole emphasis was to make them work for every inch on the court."
Nobody else scored in double figures for the Blazers, who shot .388 from the field. Aside from Lillard, they were a collective 19 for 57 (.333).
"Our first quarter was really nice, and the second quarter was really bad," Stotts said. "Give credit to Toronto. (The Raptors) were aggressive (defending) our pick-and-rolls, they got their hands on a lot of balls, and when we did get it into the paint, they went after it hard."
How was it for Stotts to watch his players miss shot after shot in the second quarter?
"Brutal," he said. "I felt bad for them. They're out there struggling. I don't fault our effort. If they were going through the motions, that would be something else. They were trying, and they couldn't get anything done. It was very frustrating — for coaches, players, fans, everybody."
Portland, which entered the game 23rd in the league in field-goal percentage (.434), wound up shooting only .388.
"Our offense hasn't been at the level we'd like it to be," Lillard said. "When all this comes back around, it's going to be a great day for us.
"We can't put our heads down and lose faith in who are and what we're capable of. We just didn't play well enough on the offensive end to give ourselves a chance tonight."
Portland entered the game as the No. 1 rebounding team in the NBA, and Toronto was without starting center Jonas Valanciunas and starting power forward Serge Ibaka, both out with knee injuries. So how did the Raptors gain a 47-38 advantage on the boards?
"Fear is a mysterious thing," Casey said. "We talked about how they physically just ate us up in an exhibition (a 106-101 Portland win on Oct. 6). They pushed us around, knocked us down.
"It's one of two things — either you fight, or you run. Our guys dug in and did a much better job of rebounding the ball."
The Blazers were a pair of last-second losses (to Milwaukee and the L.A. Clippers) from entering Monday's game 6-0. Now they're 4-3 during a home stretch in which they need to win games. What was the mood of the players afterward?
"Not like, down," swing man Evan Turner said. "It's only seven games. We're not frustrated or anything like that, but what we like to do ain't happening.
"The good part is, the defense has been there decently well. Once our shots start clicking, we'll be on a roll."
NOTES: DeMar DeRozan scored 21 of his 25 points in the first half, Kyle Lowry contributed 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and Lucas Nogueira chipped in a season-high 17 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors (4-2). … Portland's next action is at Utah Wednesday night. … The record low for any quarter in Blazer history is seven points. … Portland center Jusuf Nurkic had an ineffective performance with eight points and six rebounds in 26 minutes. … Lillard (.395) and Nurkic (.400) have been struggling with their shot. "I don't agree with any suggestion Damian or 'Nurk' are in a slump," Stotts said. "Things tend to come around to where you normally are, and both of those guys have shown that they're pretty effective. Hopefully, it's just a little phase." … The Blazers, who rank last in the NBA in fast-break points at 5.3 per game, had zero Monday night. … Portland entered the game ranked among the league's leaders in several categories, including 3-point percentage (first), free-throw percentage (first), rebound percentage (second), opponents' field-goal percentage (second), scoring (fifth) and opponents' field-goal percentage (fifth). "Our rebounding has been our biggest strength at both ends of the floor," Stotts said before the game. "I'd rather make more shots and have fewer offensive opportunities, but it's been an important part of our season so far. But it's a small sample size."