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Blazers look to shoot better vs. Raptors (Oct 30, 2017)

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Most of the statistics are favorable for the Portland Trail Blazers, who are 4-2 as they head into a Monday night date with the Toronto Raptors at Moda Center.

However, there is plenty room of improvement for the Trail Blazers, who are shooting at 43.4 percent from the field — which ranks 23rd in the NBA — and are last in the league in converting shots from 5 feet and in.

“We’re not making close-in shots that we typically make,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts, who didn’t seem overly concerned about it.

The Blazers shot 44 percent from the field, including 11 of 26 from 3-point range, on Saturday in a 114-107 home win over the Phoenix Suns. But there were still plenty of misses around the rim.

“We had another game where we could have been much better offensively,” Portland guard Damian Lillard said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well. We weren’t nearly as consistent at both ends as we need to be to be the team we want to be. But we played well enough to win the game, and that’s what’s most important.”

Lillard piled up 25 points, seven rebounds and nine assists against the Suns but shot only 7 of 21 from the field. In his past three games, Lillard has made 17 of 56 shots (30.4 percent), and he is at 37 percent for the season.

Against Phoenix, Jusuf Nurkic missed his first five shots and was 1-for-8 in the first half. He recovered to finish with 17 points on 6-for-15 shooting to go with nine rebounds. But the 7-foot Bosnian is shooting 39.4 percent for the season — third worst among the NBA’s 30 starting centers.

Portland ranks second in the NBA in 3-point percentage (43.4 percent), third in the league in offensive efficiency and leads by a wide margin in rebounding percentage (57.0 percent).

“Compared to last year, we’re playing at a higher level (at the offensive end),” forward Evan Turner said. “But we have to make it click for a full 48 (minutes).”

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Early returns are showing defensive improvement for the Blazers. Opponents are shooting 42.7 percent, which means Portland ranks fifth in field-goal defense. The Blazers also rank third in opponents’ 3-point percentage (30.6 percent).

“We’re struggling on offense, but we still scored 114 points tonight,” guard CJ McCollum said after the Phoenix game. “It’s going to be all right. No matter how we play, we’re going to be able to get 100-plus points. We just have to continue to do a good job on the defensive end.”

Toronto (3-2) hopes to regain the services of center Jonas Valanciunas, who missed the past three games with a knee injury. Second-year forward Pascal Siakam has turned heads with his play the last two games in the absence of Valanciunas and forward Lucas Nogueira (ankle).

The 6-foot-9 Siakam, who started the first 38 games as a rookie last year before ceding the spot to veteran Serge Ibaka, played only 13 minutes in the first three games this season. With Valanciunas and Nogueira out, Siakam scored a career-high 20 points in a loss at Golden State in his first start, then had 18 points and five rebounds in a 101-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night.

“Pascal has one of the best motors in the NBA,” Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said. “He’s been going out there and playing hard. He doesn’t try to do too much. He’s a talented kid. The last two games, he has been unbelievable.”

The Raptors are on the fourth game of a six-game trip that concludes with visits to Denver on Wednesday and Utah on Friday.

The Trail Blazers face the Jazz in Utah on Wednesday.

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