Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) fights for control of the ball with Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) during pre-season NBA action in Vancouver, Saturday, Sept, 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Kawhi Leonard scores 12 as Raptors win in Vancouver

Toronto beats Portland 122-104 in NBA exhibition clash

VANCOUVER — Kawhi Leonard’s first points as a Toronto Raptor came just over a minute into Saturday’s game, when he nimbly sidestepped Al-Farouq Aminu and scored on a jump shot.

They were also the Raptors’ first points of their pre-season, a fitting beginning to what Toronto hopes is a long relationship with Leonard, who was acquired in a blockbuster off-season trade.

Leonard had 12 points in the Raptors’ 122-104 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in his first game since Jan. 13, and showed glimpses of the greatness Masai Ujiri was counting on when he shipped beloved DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs for the two-time NBA defender of the year.

Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and seven rebounds to top Toronto, while Kyle Lowry had 15 points, and Fred VanVleet had 11. Pascal Siakam grabbed 13 rebounds.

Meyers Leonard led Portland with 16 points, while Damian Lillard had 12.

Introduced last among the starters, “No. 2, you know who,” Leonard played 19 first-half minutes, shooting 3-for-8 from the field and 6-for-11 from the free throw line, before taking a seat for good.

The box score didn’t reflect all the positives of Leonard’s debut. The 27-year-old showed no signs of the quadriceps injury that sidelined the 27-year-old for all but nine games last season. He went hard to the rim, and on one play drew a foul while falling flat on his back.

And his chemistry with point guard Kyle Lowry was virtually instant. A second-quarter fast break saw four passes between the two stars, culminating in a Leonard basket. It was whistled off after a Portland foul, eliciting a loud laugh at the referee from Lowry.

Part of the NBA Canada Series, the game marked the Raptors’ fourth visit to Vancouver, and sold out in less than 20 minutes. The loud Rogers Arena crowd of 18,654 fans was dotted with dozens of Raptors jerseys — as well as the odd teal Vancouver Grizzlies jersey — and included former Raptors Morris Peterson and Shawn Marion. A group of fans held a huge sign that read: “#VancouverWantsNBA.”

RELATED: Raptors gear up for Vancouver game

While the combined 76 free throw attempts spoke volumes about the sloppiness of the pre-season, there were plenty of entertaining moments. A gorgeous tic-tac-toe play saw Siakam bring the ball up the floor on the break, find Valanciunas at the top of the key, who in turn launched a crisp pass to Lowry for a three-pointer from the corner.

The Blazers led 33-32 after the first quarter, but thanks in large part to Lowry’s 12 second-quarter points, the Raptors outscored Portland by 10 and went into halftime up 64-57.

Toronto led 89-78 after three quarters and Nick Nurse, who was also making his Raptors debut as head coach, went deep into his bench for the fourth.

Sixteen Raptors played. The one notable absence was sophomore OG Anunoby, who wasn’t with the team due to personal reasons.

The Raptors play in Utah on Tuesday, then return home to host Melbourne United of Australia’s National Basketball League on Friday. They’ll host the Brooklyn Nets at Montreal’s Bell Centre on Oct. 10.

Toronto opens the regular season at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 17.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

NBA

 

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) tries to get a point as Portland Trail Blazers forward Jake Layman (10) tries to stop him during pre-season NBA action in Vancouver, Saturday, Sept, 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Just Posted

Radium accommodators seek ban on short term rentals

Radium council continues considering how to regulate short term rentals.

Fire claims Fairmont home

Unsuspecting owner opens door on blaze.

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Robbery with a hammer at Invermere Dairy Queen

Robber makes off with undisclosed amount of cash.

Talking valley politics

Local politicians offered an update on their communities and progess.

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read