Takeaways from Toronto Raptors distressing loss vs Portland Trail Blazers

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Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors dropped a home game to the Portland Trail Blazers in a contest they absolutely should have won. What did we learn from the game?

Looking to steady the ship during a period of turbulence caused by a myriad of injuries to their important players, the Toronto Raptors took on the Portland Trail Blazers in their first home game of 2020. The previous game against the Brooklyn Nets proved to be a fruitful affair, and Nick Nurse would be hoping for more of the same against a Blazers team that had been plagued by injuries of their own.

For most of the game, the Toronto Raptors were firmly in control of proceedings, despite only shooting 36-percent from the field. Even heading into the fourth quarter, the Raptors led by nine points. Their defense on Damian Lillard was stifling, forcing him to play a lot of the game without the ball in his hands, and he only took 11 shots in the game.

Still, the Trail Blazers had contributors all over the court, namely Carmelo Anthony, who had 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field. It was Anthony who would put the cherry on top of the fourth-quarter comeback from the Trail Blazers, knocking down an on-brand midrange jumper with only three seconds left to give Portland the unlikely road win.

The Raptors injury problems were worsened by the loss of Fred VanVleet, which pushed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson into a starting role, but Matt Thomas was present for the first time in 21 games. Predictably, the Raptors offense didn't hum at all times, but there were moments where they looked like they could walk away with the game.

That's what makes this loss so tough to take. The Raptors were cruising at points, but poor execution down the stretch proved to be their undoing, and the Trail Blazers, who now move to a 16-22 record, were more than happy to pick up the pieces.

It hurts, but it must be discussed. What did we learn from the game?

Next: Lillard is the difference