Raptors letting Norman Powell run wild in homecoming is embarassing

Nov 29, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; LA Clippers forward Norman Powell (24) Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; LA Clippers forward Norman Powell (24) Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Raptors made one of the riskiest trades in franchise history in the Tampa bubble, sending Norman Powell away to the Portland Trail Blazers in order to bring Gary Trent Jr. up north. Powell signed a five-year contract with Portland before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers just one year after the first move.

With Trent a younger player that wouldn’t command the hefty salary Norm would have signed for, the trade was made to give Toronto more flexibility ahead of the Scottie Barnes era. While Powell has love for the franchise, as shown during a moving tribute in his first game back in Scotiabank Arena as a visitor, he had revenge on his mind.

Powell went right after Trent on most possessions, clearly showing that he had something to prove. While Trent finished with 20 points in a solid offensive display of his own, Powell ended his night with 22 points on 8-14 shooting in just 21 minutes as the Clippers took home a convincing 124-113 victory to send Toronto to 15-19.

When Powell’s desire to prove himself to Masai Ujiri and the front office mashes up with a skidding Raptors team that still has no concept of perimeter defense whatsoever, the result was so explosive that a near triple-double from Barnes was rendered entirely pointless. Powell was a man on a mission tonight.

Clippers guard Norman Powell destroyed the Toronto Raptors.

Nick Nurse’s desire to make the opposing star player as uncomfortable as possible may have helped Powell have such gaudy numbers. Kawhi Leonard, playing in his first game at Scotiabank since departing the Raptors, managed just 15 points in 34 minutes. However, Toronto’s laughable defense gave Powell opportunities to step up.

Powell, like he did countless times when he was on the Raptors, was able to bury any hopes of a Toronto comeback in the second half, as a barrage of points near the end of the third quarter demoralized his opponent to the point where the outcome of the game was basically decided as the final stanza kicked off.

The Raptors were so pathetic offensively in this game that bench standout Malachi Flynn’s 3-pointer with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter was the first triple Toronto had converted in the entire second half. With Powell on one of his trademark heaters, Nurse lacked the ability to punch back against his old protege.

While it was nice to see Powell flex his muscles and remind us that he remains one of the league’s most undervalued and underappreciated players in the game, his night underscored how bad things are in Toronto right now.

The only reason this team isn’t on an eight-game losing streak is Pascal Siakam playing like a superhero, and that’s not hyperbole.

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