If the Toronto Raptors were going to take down Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, they needed stars like Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby to carry the load on offense and bench players like Goran Dragic and Chris Boucher to supplement them in spurts.
Unfortunately, Toronto’s 16-2 run to start the game didn’t last, as Doncic led the Mavericks to a 103-95 win at Scotiabank Arena, sending the young Raptors to 1-2 on the season. Anunoby started the game off red-hot with 20 first-half points, but due to some foul trouble, he was unable to make an impact for large chunks of the last two quarters.
With Anunoby in foul trouble, rookie sensation Scottie Barnes hampered by a minor quad injury, and the lack of shooting on this roster coming back to bite them at the most inopportune time, it was only a matter of time before Doncic got hot and the Mavericks were able to grab their first win of the year.
Despite some general uneven play and some clearly tired players, not everyone stunk it up for Nick Nurse’s team. While one Toronto Raptors star did lead the charge and play very well, Nurse needed more from one of his key bench players.
Fred VanVleet was exceptional for the Toronto Raptors.
VanVleet still hasn’t found his 3-point shot in the early parts of this season, but he put together what was his finest game to this point. VanVleet finished with 20 points (second on the team behind Anunoby due to No. 3’s first-half outburst), five rebounds, and five assists.
VanVleet wasn’t connecting from deep, but he was lethal from mid-range, played smothering defense, and helped set some of his teammates up with clutch passes that show how he’s taken to the role of a lead point guard.
VanVleet might not have been able to help his team take home the victory, but he and Anunoby looked much calmer on offense than they did against Washington and Boston, and that’s a positive for this team.
The Toronto Raptors need more from Goran Dragic
Dragic is certainly taking to his role as a vocal veteran leader, but he hasn’t necessarily made a huge impact on the court just yet with Toronto. In front of a prospective trade partner in Dallas, the Slovenian laid an egg.
Dragic scored just two points and recorded two rebounds in 14 minutes of play, putting up a ghastly -16 on the night. He never looked comfortable as a shooter or distributor in this game, and Dallas reeled off a few big runs when he was on the floor due to some mistakes from the team’s greybeard.
While the likes of Malachi Flynn sat on the bench behind him, Dragic started to show his age, and that is not what Toronto wants to see as they try to beef up his trade value.
This was a tough game for the Raptors, as facing an MVP frontrunner on the second night of a back-to-back is never easy. They’ll welcome back an old friend in DeMar DeRozan and the Bulls on Monday night.