Toronto Raptors: Stock Take, injuries force to Hollis-Jefferson step up

Toronto Raptors - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Injuries plagued the Toronto Raptors this week, but the train kept rolling. Whose stock rose and who fell this week?

Despite such an impressive start to their West Coast road trip, the Toronto Raptors are facing an injury crisis – something that could put a dampener on any team’s success. The Raptors took on the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers this past week. Walking away with a 1-3 record would have not come as a surprise.

Instead, the Raptors reversed that record and cruised to a 3-1 record this past week, improving their overall record to 8-3 and setting the tone for the rest of the season. Even without the injured bodies of Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and OG Anunoby – who will all feature this week – the Raptors impressed with their hard-nosed grit and desire.

A highly impressive victory against the Los Angeles Lakers was followed by a closer than it looks loss to the LA Clippers, where Kawhi Leonard was playing against the Raptors for the first time since he left the team in free agency.

Leonard had a tough time against the Raptors, finishing 2-of-11 from the field, and giving up nine turnovers. The Raptors, as per the norm, played suffocating defense on Leonard, trapping him and forcing him to give up the ball multiple times. Leonard’s passing has improved this season, but the Raptors were still able to make him uncomfortable.

They knew how to play against him, almost as if they studied him and his tendencies for the past year. Weird, right?

The aforementioned suffocating defense was present against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, this time shutting down Damian Lillard, who finished with nine points on 2-of-12 shooting. Though the Raptors only have the fifth-best defense in the NBA, it sure feels like they are trending even higher.

Speaking of trending upwards, who did so this week? Also, starting on a sour note, who did the opposite?