Serge Ibaka scored 19 points, while Pascal Siakam added 18, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Portland Trail Blazers 110-104 in their second exhibition scrimmage of the NBA restart in the Walt Disney World bubble.
Matt Thomas had 16 points, while Kyle Lowry had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists, and Terence Davis chipped in with 13 points.
CJ McCollum topped Portland with 21 points, while Yusuf Nurkic had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
The one negative on the night for Toronto was the loss of Fred VanVleet less than a quarter in to the game. He suffered what the team called a “banged” left knee, but was able to jog unevenly off the court and to the locker-room on his own.
Trailing Portland for most of the first half, the Raptors dug in on the defensive end in the second, and when Lowry and Terence Davis hit back-to-back three-pointers late in the third quarter, the Raptors went up 80-67. They took a 87-75 advantage into the fourth.
Portland had a brief late-game burst but the reigning NBA champion Raptors already had the game well in hand.
Ibaka had another strong outing, shooting 5 for 9 from the field and looking in regular-season feisty form in a brief scuffle with Nurkic. His 18 points two nights earlier in a win against Houston topped Toronto in scoring.
The game was a chance to see the slimmed-down Marc Gasol, who didn’t play in the first scrimmage as Nurse eases the big man back into action. He had three points and four rebounds in his nine minutes.
The 35-year-old had missed 28 games of the pre-pandemic season with a nagging hamstring injury, and chalked it up to Toronto’s long run in the NBA Finals, and then the World Cup in China – Gasol was a key member of the victorious Spanish team. He went into the four-month layoff intent on correcting the issues that caused his hamstring woes, and cranking up his overall fitness was a big part of that.
Nurse, wearing a “Coaches for Racial Justice” pin, went with the “jumbo” starting lineup he’d been talking about, starting both Ibaka and Gasol.
Portland gave Nurse and the Raptors the chance to see a bigger lineup in Hassan Whiteside and Nurkic, who’d missed all 66 of Portland’s games before the hiatus after suffering a gruesome broken leg last spring.
Portland is one of the five teams in the Western Conference that are within six games of the eighth seed.
The Raptors beat Houston 94-83 on Friday in a game that featured 10-minute quarters to help players readjust to games after the unprecedented layoff. Saturday’s game was back to the regulation 12 minutes per quarter.
The Raptors play Phoenix on Tuesday in their final exhibition game The Raptors begin their title defence in earnest on Saturday when they battle the Los Angeles Lakers in the first of eight seeding-round games.
Finally back on the court more than four months after COVID-19 shut down the league on March 11, the scrimmages continue to pose unique challenges. Nurse said it’s tough to call a play or direct his players – his voice carries so well in the quiet fanless arena. And officials had to warn both teams’ benches on Sunday as their criticisms aimed at referees could also be clearly heard.
The Raptors’ first seven shots Sunday were three-pointers, and they hit just two of them as Portland led for most of a first quarter that ended in a 25-25 tie.
Ibaka hit a three late in the second quarter to give the Raptors a one-point lead, but they trailed 54-49 at halftime.
Patrick McCaw sat out the game with an undisclosed injury.