Toronto Raptors: Whose stock is up/down, plus multiple career-nights

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet – Toronto Raptors (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images) /

 The Toronto Raptors rolled into the new year with wins against Chicago and Utah before succumbing to the Spurs on Thursday night. How did everyone fare individually.

The Toronto Raptors, who now sit second in the Eastern Conference, are 9-8 since December began. The team has consistently flirted with injuries and poor play throughout the month of December and now heading into January and beyond.

Kyle Lowry has been missing since the Philadelphia game on December 23, a game he probably forced himself into, too. Jonas Valanciunas is on the mend from a dislocated thumb and Serge Ibaka has looked weary since he returned from his own injury struggles.

On the court though, things have looked fairly disjointed when VanVleet is running the offense – especially when Leonard and Siakam are on the court. The Raptors are still struggling with their shot, they rank 25th in overall three-point percentage and 29th in three-point percentage when the closest defender is four-six feet away. In other words, the Raptors are missing on open looks and it’s killing them.

During the festive period, we saw a blowout loss to the Orlando Magic, followed by a close and ugly win against Chicago and a huge win against Utah. The win against Utah was especially emphatic, career-high points for both Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam rounded off an incredible victory against a tough opponent.

It all came down to Thursday night, though. The emotionally charged return of Kawhi to San Antonio for the first time since his departure in the summer – it was also the first time DeMar DeRozan would face off against his former team too. Kawhi was hit with a symphony of boos every time he touched the ball, for all 32 minutes that Kawhi was on the court it was like Larry Zybysko had just turned on Bruno Sammartino. The Spurs had every right to boo Kawhi, that’s their prerogative – but let’s not let silly emotions cloud facts. Boo away though, see if I care.

The game, as intense as it felt thanks to a partisan San Antonio crowd, failed to impress. More importantly, the Raptors failed to impress. Down by as many as 25 points in the first quarter, the Raptors were playing from behind all game and looked lethargic. Kawhi had a team-high 21 points, without making a three-pointer – the second game in a row where Kawhi hasn’t made a shot from deep.

DeMar DeRozan also had his first ever triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. Because of course, he did.

Right, let’s just get to it.