The Toronto Raptors know that they must begin to find better scoring chances for Pascal Siakam starting Monday night against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.
Siakam scored only 11 points Saturday night in a 114-107 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in the return of former Toronto coach Nick Nurse.
“We need to definitely find more opportunities for him,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said. “Some of those are really coming from us. … We did not do a good job of cutting. We’ve got to be able to open more room for him to attack downhill, to get shots at the rim.”
The Raptors, who were playing the second of back-to-back games on Saturday, will be facing a team playing its second game in two nights. Portland opened a three-game road trip with a 126-98 loss to the 76ers on Sunday night. The Trail Blazers are winless in three games this season.
“Scoring is not coming very easy to us right now as we’re getting to know each other,” Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said.
Siakam has averaged 14.7 points over the first three games of the season. Last season, Siakam averaged a career-best 24.2.
Siakam added seven rebounds, four assists and one block in 36 minutes on Saturday.
“I think he was involved,” Rajakovic said. “I thought he was making right decisions, I thought he was finding open guys.”
The Raptors have lost two in a row after winning their season opener for their new coach.
“It’s a new system, we just keep adjusting each and every game,” said Scottie Barnes, who scored 24 points on Saturday.
“It is going to be a journey,” Rajakovic said. “It’s going to be a process, and we’re going to stay together on that journey. I think the most important thing for us is understanding that it’s going to take some time to have clarity (with) what we really want to do.”
Gary Trent Jr. added 17 points on Saturday, followed by rookie Gradey Dick with 16 and Dennis Schroder with 15 points.
The Trail Blazers are making adjustments of their own. They are trying to replace the scoring of Anfernee Simons, who is out four to six weeks after having surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb.
“We have to do it collectively,” Billups said.
They also are working in center Deandre Ayton, who played last season with the Phoenix Suns.
Billups had planned to develop Simons and Ayton as a pick-and-roll combination.
“Not having Ant out there impacts everybody,” Billups said. “We got a guy in the pick and roll like Ant, that’s going to get so much attention. Pockets are open. Swing passes are open. Not having him impacts everything.”
Ayton had seven points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes on Sunday.
Shaedon Sharpe led Portland with 20 points. That comes after he scored 24 points on Friday in a 102-97 loss to the Orlando Magic.
“Shae was really good,” Billups said after the game on Friday. “We needed his scoring, needed his shooting. With Ant down, obviously, we have a void there. I thought he stepped in and was aggressive the entire time, and he’s going to have to be. That’s who we want Shaedon to be, whether he’s coming off the bench or a starter. And he’s going to be a long, long time starter in this league.”