The Toronto Raptors added an unofficial promotion to last night's program, this one courtesy of the players: Giveaway Night.
Thanks to 16 turnovers, the Raptors allowed the Portland Trail Blazers to leave the Air Canada Centre with an easy 101-87 win in front of 16,161 people who, apparently, hate hockey - foregoing the televised Canadian men's Olympic game against Russia to attend.
The Trail Blazers (34-26) were playing the second of back-to-back road games, but looked fresh in winning their third in a row and ending the Raptors' franchise-high streak of 20 games of scoring at least 100 points.
The hosts spread their largess around, as nine Raptors players had at least one turnover. Guards Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon led the way with three each, while Marco Belinelli, who played less than eight minutes, and Amir Johnson were the only Toronto players not to cough up the ball.
"It happens," Jack said with a shrug. "We were just careless with the ball."
Raptors head coach Jay Triano echoed that sentiment.
"We were sloppy with the ball. It was different guys, you couldn't blame one guy," he said. "It wasn't a lack of effort. But that second burst of energy we usually get wasn't there."
The Trail Blazers are not a run-and-gun team, ranking near the bottom of the NBA's rankings in fast-break points. But that was not the case last night, as Toronto turnovers gave them all the fast breaks they needed to stay in front from the middle of the first quarter on.
Portland guards Brandon Roy, Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez did most of the damage. Roy finished with 20 points, while Miller had 18 and Fernandez 17.
Triano said he was unable to find a way for his players to counter Roy and Miller.
"We tried different guys on them, different looks, but nothing worked," he said. "This is a team that doesn't score a lot on fast breaks, but they get 20 of them because we turned it over."
The Raptors (31-25) opened the game looking as if they were going to show their Western Conference opponents that a pretty good brand of basketball is played in the East.
Hedo Turkoglu hit two consecutive three-pointers to send the Raptors out to an early lead, showing he is on the mend from struggles on and off the court. Turkoglu returned to Turkey recently to be with his mother, who underwent open-heart surgery. He rejoined the NBA team a week ago. By the end of the first half, he was 3-for-3 on three-pointers, and finished with a game-high 24 points.
But turnovers prevented the Raptors from capitalizing. By the end of the first quarter, they had coughed up the ball six times and the Trail Blazers shot a collective 61.9 per cent from the floor to take a 32-24 lead.
Portland increased its lead to 15 in the second quarter. But when Roy cooled off, the Raptors managed to cut it to 53-47 at the half.
However, giveaway night continued in the third quarter. By the end of that frame, the Raptors were up to 14 turnovers as the Trail Blazers took over.
"We just let them get easy baskets," said Turkoglu, who brushed off talk of his own solid stats. "I don't know how much they had in fast breaks. I think they are last in the NBA in fast-break points, but they had too many easy points."
Turkoglu said he and his teammates should consider being a little more selfish to get their offence back up to the 100-point mark.
"We were really trying to do too much, I guess," he said. "Instead of looking for what's best for our shot, people tried to do too much. We are a good team, an unselfish team. We tried to find the extra man, but sometimes we have to look at our shots, too, and when it's good we have to take it."
The Trail Blazers finished with just eight turnovers and that, their head coach said, was the key to countering the fatigue of playing the night before in Phoenix.
"I love the fact that as a team in the past two games we have had only 11 turnovers," Nate McMillan said. "That is always a key for us. We want to play fast and play aggressive, but you have to take care of the ball.
"I thought we had some heavy legs but the focus was there. The fact that [injured Raptors forward]Chris Bosh wasn't here, we certainly wanted to take advantage of that. I thought our bench, [Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless] those guys did a nice job of coming in and providing some scoring and they had some pretty fresh legs."