Raptors search for answers in Portland

December 10, 2012, 5:41 PM

The Toronto Raptors don’t have long to think about their fourth-quarter collapse against the Clippers on Sunday as they will face the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

It will be the final contest of a five-game road trip for a Raptors team that has struggled away from home having lost 10 straight.

The Blazers have had recent struggles of their own, having lost their last two games, including a 99-80 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

Here are a few things to consider a head of tonight’s game:

Casey out of answers?

Raptors coach Dwane Casey watched his team fall apart in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Ball movement came to a standstill as the Raptors watched a two-point margin expand to a 19-point loss over the final nine minutes of the game. Casey had some theories but could not explain why the ball stopped moving.

“I don’t know the answer,” Casey told the Toronto Star’s Doug Smith. “They turn up their intensity defensively, that could be one thing. We were emphasizing it, we were running sets to get it going to the weak side.

“It’s a phenomenon, we emphasize it, (the ball) didn’t totally stop but you have to make shots once it does get to the weak side.”

Advice for Jose

Jose Calderon’s name has surfaced in trade rumours for over a year now and he seems to be taking it all in stride these days.

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, he realizes he may be moved.

“I don’t rule it out. My contract comes to an end and probably there will be a chance the franchise thinks about trading me to get something in return,” he told Spanish web site ElMundo.es. “It’s a possibility. I don’t know what will happen.”

He also knows that after eight years in Toronto, a move to a better team might not be as easy as it sounds.

“Going to a better team would be like starting from scratch, like coming to the NBA again.”

Anderson almost back

The way the Raptors season has gone as of late, the team could use a bit of good news.

The latest bit of bad luck came when recently-signed swingman Mickael Pietrus was forced to miss Sunday’s game because of knee tendinitis. This was especially damaging as the team has been without Landry Fields and Alan Anderson for several weeks.

But Anderson went through a pain-free workout Sunday and told the Toronto Sun’s Mike Ganter that he is just “one more full-court practice” away from returning.

He won’t play against Portland but he may be back by the weekend as Toronto won’t be able to have a practice until Thursday.

Matthews streak ending?

Blazers forward Wes Matthews has played in 250 consecutive games but his streak may be in jeopardy on Monday night.

Matthews missed the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss because of a hip injury and told the Oregonian that he wouldn’t have played on Sunday.

He currently has the NBA’s second-longest streak of consecutive games played behind Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (332 games) and says that he doesn’t play through pain for any selfish reasons.

“It’s done not only out of stubbornness, but out of sacrifice for the team,” Matthews said. “It’s not just an individual thing, I’m doing this so my team knows I’m going to fight for them regardless. As long as I can compete, I’m going to compete.”

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