Following a pair of impressive victories against the LA Clippers and Golden State Warriors to start the week, the Toronto Raptors lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday by a final score of 128-122.
From Kawhi Leonard's return to a dominant showing from Portland's bench, here are five takeaways from the game.
Kawhi Leonard's return
This was Kawhi Leonard's first game in almost a week, as he missed Tuesday's game against the LA Clippers and Wednesday's against the Golden State Warriors with a hip injury.
Leonard came out of the gates slow, following a scoreless first quarter with three points (all from the free throw line) in the second. The two-time All-Star then looked more like his normal self in the third quarter when he scored 10 points to help cut Portland's deficit to two points going into the fourth.
Leonard was even better in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field. Three of those points came on one of his best moves of the season - a beautiful crossover on Maurice Harkless that set him up for an open 3-pointer.
Leonard finished with a game-high 28 points, but it wasn't quite enough for the Raptors to complete the comeback and escape Portland with the win.
Fred VanVleet's season-high
Kawhi Leonard wasn't the only player to have a strong performance for the Raptors. Fred VanVleet, who started in place of the injured Kyle Lowry, scored a season-high 21 points in his sixth start of the season.
VanVleet was at his best in the third quarter, when he scored 11 of his 21 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field. He also dished out three assists in the period that created seven points for his teammates.
With his scoring and his passing, VanVleet was responsible for almost half of Toronto's scoring in an explosive third quarter that got them back in the game.
It set the stage for a competitive fourth quarter, but Portland's second unit had something else in mind.
It was Portland's all-bench unit of Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas, Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard and Zach Collins that changed this game.
With 10 points from Curry and 12 points from Turner, Stauskas and Collins, the Blazers outscored the Raptors 22-13 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
By the time the starters checked back in the game with 4:45 remaining in regulation, the Blazers held a 113-102 lead. Kawhi Leonard made things interesting down the stretch, but Portland's second unit built a big enough lead for them to hold on to the win.
Portland's bench played well the rest of the game, too, outscoring Toronto's second unit 58-26. While CJ Miles had one of his best games of the season with 13 points in 19 minutes of action, Delon Wright, OG Anunoby and Greg Monroe combined to score only 13 points.
With injuries to Jonas Valanciunas and Norman Powell, Miles, Wright, Anunoby and Monroe were the only four reserves to see the court for the Raptors on Friday.
Points off of turnovers
Turnovers were a problem for the Raptors, as they committed 16 to only eight for the Blazers. Fred VanVleet led the way with four and Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Greg Monroe each had three.
The Blazers made the Raptors pay for those turnovers in a big way, turning them into 26 points. The Raptors, for comparison, scored four points off of the Blazers' turnovers.
That's a massive difference in a game that was decided by only six points.
Pascal Siakam's injury
Pascal Siakam took a hard fall in the second quarter and logged only seven minutes the rest of the way.
The good news is that no damage was found in the tests the Raptors ran postgame and Siakam is expected to be day-to-day.
Sources on @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium: Raptors' Pascal Siakam is expected to be day-to-day after hard fall on his back tonight in Portland; no damage found in postgame tests. Siakam has emerged as a valuable player for Toronto.- Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 15, 2018
With how well he's been playing this season, the Raptors can only hope that Siakam will return to full strength soon.