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Here we go again.

On the heels of an impressive five-game road trip with tough fought games against some of the league's truly elite teams, the Toronto Raptors did what the Toronto Raptors seem to do far too often this season. They'll play up to their opponents when they need to, but when a pushover comes to town, you know, the Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, or Damian Lillard and Norman Powell-less Portland Trail Blazers, for example, these Raptors just lose their way. The easy ones become the tough ones and the Raptors turn in the kind of 114-105 performance they produced Sunday night against those lowly Trail Blazers.

It's become a pattern by now, a concerning one at that, and it's making this team far too difficult to judge. I mean, how can Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster evaluate this team less than three weeks before the deadline when they're 22-22 and every sign of hope gives way to moments of despair? How can you be buyers, as Toronto reportedly plans to be, when you're only winning half your games?

Toronto's first half was Sunday night was as bad a half of basketball as the Raptors have played all season. The offense had almost as many turnovers in the first half as made field goals. The starters combined to shoot 6-for-39 with Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. coughing up five of Toronto's 10 first-half turnovers. It wasn't until Trent nailed a corner three just before the break that the Raptors nailed their 11th field goal to head into intermission with 11 buckets, 10 turnovers, and nine fouls.

It wasn't going to stay that way all night, of course, and the Raptors did go on their run. Justin Champagnie came off the bench and provided a spark for Toronto who turned up the pressure and cut Portland's lead down to 11. He even nailed a pair of corner three-pointers, the kind Toronto has been looking for out of him this season. 

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The Raptors turned up the pressure even more in the fourth, using a full-court press to frustrate Portland. It forced the Trail Blazers into 22 turnovers, most of which came in the second half. Siakam even turned things on late, as Toronto cut Portland's lead down to single digits. He had 15 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter alone.

But just when a pair of threes from Fred VanVleet and Trent gave Toronto hope, down five, Anfernee Simons snuffed out the rally with a three-pointer of his own.

I mean, a 30 point comeback is certainly impressive, but a 34 point hole just can't happen, especially against a Trail Blazers team missing two of their top offensive weapons.

Banton Back in Rotation

A pair of impressive G League performances from Dalano Banton with the Raptors 905 earned him some playing time with the big club Sunday. He cracked the rotation again, following a lengthy absence, and was OK. The turnovers, again, were a problem. He throws some ill-advised fastball passes that lack touch in close quarters, but his energy and defensive intensity helped Toronto narrow the gap in the second half.

Billups Praises VanVleet

"He’s just so underappreciated, to me, by the league. I think he’s maybe the most underrated player in the game," said Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups, a Basketball Hall of Fame point guard in his own right. "He can do it all. Gotta give him credit for being as good as he is. A lockdown defender. He’s a big shot taker and maker."

Up Next: Charlotte Hornets

The Raptors brief homestand will continue Tuesday night when LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets come to town for a 7 p.m. ET tipoff at Scotiabank Arena.