The 12-20 Toronto Raptors are a different team compared to the one that started the season 4-19, winning eight of their last nine games. Toronto defeated the Portland Trailblazers for the first time since Jan. 13 2008, extending their win streak to three games with a 102-79 victory.
The Raptors looked like an entirely different team against Portland since the last time the two teams played. On Dec. 10, Toronto hit rock bottom on their season after the team went 0-5 on a west road trip that ended with a 92-74 loss to the Trailblazers. It was the third straight blowout loss for the team while they also lost Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani to injury in the contest.
Toronto was already injury riddled before the Lowry and Bargnani injuries and after the painful west coast trip, appeared to be headed towards disaster. The team was losing badly, couldn’t stay healthy and would begin doubting themselves the moment something would go wrong in a game.
Since that awful road trip, the Raptors have completely turned their season around.
Toronto rallied around the injuries as the Raptors began to play as a team instead of a group of individuals. The results have seen multiple players step up with impressive performances.
Terrence Ross is showing exactly why Toronto drafted him with the 8th overall pick last June with his performance through the win streak. Ross finished with 26 points against Portland after going 6 for 9 from three-point range. The rookie has shown his athleticism and shooting range through the first two months but more importantly his tremendous upset.
Ed Davis continues to step up as the team’s starting power forward with Bargnani out of the line-up. Davis is having the best year of his short career and finished with his second highest scoring total of the season with 19 points, shooting 9 for 12 from the field to go along with seven rebounds against the Trailblazers.
Meanwhile, Lowry has returned from his injury on Dec. 10 and along with Jose Calderon, has provided Toronto with incredible production from the point guard position. The duo combined for 22 assists while going 0-3 from the floor with only two turnovers. It remains unclear if Lowry will stay happy as Calderon’s back-up but for now the Raptors are loaded at the point.
It also can’t be overlooked that DeMar DeRozan is becoming one of the league’s top five shooting guards.
Toronto is still without Bargnani for the foreseeable future and Jonas Valanciunas is still weeks away from returning, but the team continues to find a way to win games. There’s no denying this is a completely different Raptors team than the one that began the year.