PORTLAND – You need to have an distinctive quantity of self-belief to go from being the forty sixth participant taken within the NBA draft – partially since you had been judged a poor shooter – to turning into among the finest long-range gunners on the planet, and in your method to incomes $150 million in what might very properly find yourself being a profession that runs 15 years.
His may be very a lot a fairy story story aside from that the magic wand is hours upon lonely hours in gyms constructing talent when nobody was watching.
Powell wished to remain a Raptor. He’s proud of the Portland Trail Blazers however, when requested him about how every part went down that ended up with him getting dealt after six years in Toronto, he mentioned this:
“I feel you get to see the enterprise facet of it. I’ve seen the politics and stuff in basketball early on which has helped me navigate,” he mentioned. “You realize, how issues work behind the scenes that that folks do not actually get to see. However I feel it is good for me to expertise one thing new and discover a method to handle it and cope with it. I feel I’ve executed a fantastic job of dealing with it.”
A storybook evening would have been Powell main his new crew to the win.
It didn’t fairly work out that means.
The Path Blazers pulled means for the 118-113 win with a 20-7 run to start out the fourth quarter of what was, at that time, a tie recreation. The Raptors pushed again a number of instances. Trailing by 11 with 4:09 left, Fred VanVleet hit an extended three in transition, arrange Pascal Siakam for a floater within the paint and – after a pair of missed threes by OG Anunoby – grabbed the rebound and knocked down one other three. That made it a one-point recreation with 1:51 to play. However Portland scored six unanswered factors from there to tug away for good.
The Raptors fell to 7-8 as they start their six-game street journey, whereas Portland improved to 7-8 whereas profitable on the second evening of a back-to-back.
Powell didn’t have signature evening at both finish of the ground, ending with 12 factors on 3-of-9 taking pictures.
As an alternative, it was Gary Trent Jr. who confirmed properly in opposition to his outdated crew in his outdated constructing, placing up 18 factors on 8-of-16 taking pictures, although he did endure the misfortune of getting his outdated teammate CJ McCollum put the sport on ice when he scored on Trent Jr. in isolation within the recreation’s ultimate minute.
However Powell will at the very least have bragging rights to carry over VanVleet of their frequent textual content exchanges, because the Path Blazers improved to 2-0 over the Raptors since he joined them, going again to final season.
The explanation final evening at the very least, was that the Raptors struggled down the stretch defensively. There are doubtless loads of elements at work there – making an attempt to comprise McCollum and Damian Lillard is a activity many groups have failed earlier than.
It most likely doesn’t assist that the Raptors’ starters all performed between 39 and 41 minutes. However, then once more, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse clearly doesn’t trust in his bench in the intervening time. Maybe with good purpose: Dalano Banton, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malachi Flynn had been a mixed -28 in 20 minutes of ground time.
“I might say this, I do not assume as a crew we guarded very properly,” mentioned Nurse. “I don’t know if it’s matchups and issues like that, I simply assume that I imply after they shoot 56 per cent …”
McCollum and Lillard scored 29 and 24 factors, respectively, whereas combining to shoot 21-of-39 and 9-of-17 from three. In the meantime Portland’s bench mixed to shoot 16-of-23.
“I simply really feel we’re not taking part in the identical sort of defence after we had been on that five-game profitable streak,” mentioned Khem Birch. “Even myself, I gotta cease fascinated by my man, play extra crew defence. I feel we simply gotta play extra crew defence generally.”
Powell was 0-of-4 from deep which is uncommon for him. He got here into the sport taking pictures 44.8 per cent from deep this season for Portland. When he was traded for Trent Jr. on the deadline final March, he was taking pictures 43.9 per cent for the Raptors.
It’s a talent that has made him very rich. This previous summer season he signed a five-year contract for $90 million. Shooters receives a commission. When the Raptors strive promote younger gamers on the deserves of their participant growth program it’s not onerous: examples like Powell, going from rookie minimal to the place he’s now, communicate for themselves.
His success is simple to root for.
“It is one other milestone, clearly. Set for all times just about. However you recognize, it is a milestone for me and I am all the time on the lookout for the following problem,” he mentioned. “You realize, I need to set up myself as among the finest gamers within the league. I need to make an All-Star crew, I need to win the awards that the highest gamers have. That is all the time been my purpose. Clearly, it adjustments primarily based on roles and issues like that with the crew however these will all the time be my expectations so I’m going to proceed to work and proceed to plug away.”
Toronto Raptors ahead OG Anunoby, left, shoots over Portland Path Blazers ahead Norman Powell throughout the first half of an NBA basketball recreation in Portland, Ore., Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Craig Mitchelldyer/AP)
One in every of causes the Path Blazers wished to commerce for Powell is that they thought he might deliver some defensive chops, too.
However one of many causes the Raptors felt comfy shifting on from Powell was that they weren’t bought on his skills to be the type of defender they felt they wanted.
And as if to show it, the Raptors went proper at their outdated pal from the second the ball went up at Modo Heart.
The Blazers began very small throughout their backcourt, with the six-foot-three Powell at ahead alongside guards Lillard and McCollum. That meant Powell was the one who guarded Anunoby, giving up 5 inches and 30 kilos. And that meant he was the matchup the Raptors had been searching within the early going.
Anunoby – himself a fairly convincing product of the Raptors participant growth program – was greater than prepared. He exploded within the first quarter for 14 factors on 5-of-6 taking pictures, together with making all 4 of his threes. They weren’t all on Powell – at instances the Raptors’ ball motion was ok that Powell and the remainder of his crew had been chasing ghosts behind the ball. However there have been a number of the place Anunoby was merely the larger and higher participant.
The Raptors had Portland on their heels early, leaping out to a 33-24 lead.
Powell hoped that he might put a quantity on his outdated crew.
“I am aggressive, so we’re all aggressive,” he mentioned with a smile. “Competing with these guys is enjoyable.”
It’s a mindset that has served him properly. His evolution as a shooter – he shot simply 31 per cent from deep in 4 years at UCLA – is one instance of how his willpower and self-belief have manifested in on-court outcomes.
“I all the time say this, yeah, we can provide ‘em ideas and make tweaks, do issues after which it goes squarely proper on their desk to go to work on it,” mentioned Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “And also you guys understand how onerous that man labored to develop into an NBA shooter and now an NBA elite shooter. I Simply hope he doesn’t make too many tonight. We’re pleased with him however (not) tonight, that’s the best way it goes typically.”
There was not a fear, seems. Powell was large open within the nook on his first contact however brief armed it. He missed his subsequent have a look at three, too. He misplaced the ball out of bounds driving left and didn’t rating his first hoop till he was fouled in transition halfway by means of the second quarter.
Happily, the Blazers aren’t in need of guys who can rating. McCollum and Lillard mixed for 18 factors on 7-of-10 taking pictures as Portland started clawing again. Anunoby saved his roll going, including 9 second-quarter factors to complete with 23 earlier than halftime as he went 6-of-8 from three. He cooled significantly within the second half, ending with 29.
As a crew Toronto shot simply 36 per cent within the quarter. A Powell lay-up with 54 seconds left gave Portland their first lead at 61-60, which is how they began second half.
The Path Blazers had been the higher crew from there, even when Powell wasn’t at his greatest, however he didn’t should be. The Raptors had been removed from their greatest both.