Raptors fall to Blazers
Jerryd Bayless always believed his former teammate, LaMarcus Aldridge, should be an all-star.
Unfortunately for the Toronto Raptors on Friday, Aldridge proved him right.
Aldridge scored 14 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter and Portland came back for a 102-96 victory over the Raptors, who have lost 16 of their past 17 games.
"LaMarcus is a special player," said Bayless, who came off Toronto's bench to score all 18 of his points in the fourth quarter, including four three-pointers.
"I told everybody he's one of the most underrated players in the league. He's a great player. He should have been an all-star no question about it. You look at his last 20 games and he's one of the best players in the league."
Bayless played for Portland for two seasons before being traded to New Orleans on Oct. 23 and he was traded to Toronto on Nov. 20.
Rudy Fernandez added 23 points off the bench going 8-for-11 after hitting his first eight shots, including six threes, and Andre Miller scored 13 and had eight assists for the Trail Blazers (29-24).
Andrea Bargnani led Toronto (14-40) with 29 points while DeMar DeRozan chipped in with 17.
Rookie Ed Davis had a career-best 13 rebounds for Toronto to go with six points.
Bayless was 6-for-11 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from three-point range. But he was 6-for-7 from the floor in the fourth quarter when he took all five of his three-point attempts.
"It would have felt better if we had won," Bayless said. "When I was in New Orleans we beat them, and I didn't have half as good a game and it felt a lot better."
New Orleans beat Portland 107-87 on Nov. 13 and Bayless had eight points, three assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes.
Bayless, who made four consecutive threes in the fourth quarter to put Toronto ahead 85-78 with 6:40 left in the game, made two free throws with 11.7 seconds to play and cut Portland's lead to two.
But Wesley Matthews' two free throws with 10.5 seconds left restored Portland's four-point advantage and the Blazers never looked back.
"That was a tough one," DeRozan said. "We were in the game and just had some mental breakdowns on the defensive end. LaMarcus is a great player and in my opinion I think he should be an all-star. It's tough stopping him and I think that's what really hurt us."
The Raptors played without Amir Johnson, who is averaging 11.2 points and 7.5 rebounds, after he suffered a sprained right ankle in Wednesday's loss to San Antonio. It was the first game Johnson has missed this season.
Aldridge made a seven-foot hook and a 20-foot jumper to give Portland a three-point lead with 3:16 to play in the game. It was a four-point lead after Miller put in a layup and made the free throw.
"He's a good player," Raptors head coach Jay Triano said of Aldridge. "Our goal was to force him to not get into the middle of the floor and I think he got there all but one or two times. He gets to the middle, he's pretty dangerous and then you have to close out a little quicker on him."
Bargnani cut that lead to two with a hook shot with 2:31 to play but Aldridge made a 10-foot turnaround jumper from the baseline to return the lead to four.
After Bargnani missed, Miller hit an 18-foot baseline jumper and Portland led by six with 1:16 to play.
Portland led 55-47 at the half and 72-70 after three quarters.
Portland took the game from Toronto in the final six minutes.
"We basically played through LaMarcus and went with a smaller lineup to try and spread the floor," Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said. "We just needed to rebound the ball. LaMarcus did a good job of making decisions."