The Toronto Raptors thought that the combination of Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. in the starting lineup and Chris Boucher coming off the bench would be enough to break their short two-game slide against old friend DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately, that plan started to go astray in the second quarter.
With Goran Dragic struggling once again and Nick Nurse’s high-octane defense struggling to contain the likes of DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic, Chicago withstood a furious comeback and ended up barely stealing a 111-108 win. Toronto now stands at 1-3.
The Raptors have been incredibly volatile this season, as they followed up their offensive outburst against the Celtics with some poor showings. The Bulls and Mavericks are good teams, but the Raptors have still come away from these games without victories.
The Raptors had a few standout performers in what was their best home shooting performance of the season, but they also had multiple players that need some extra time in the film room if they want to improve.
Gary Trent Jr. made an impact on the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors signed Trent with the expectation that he would be one of the primary scorers on a team that lacks tons of great shooting. While he has actually been more impressive as a defender this year given his high steals totals, he started to heat up as a scorer.
Trent scored 18 points while going 7-15 from the field and 4-9 from 3-point range. He scored seven of Toronto’s first nine points and helped them get on a nice run in the third quarter. He wasn’t the second coming of Michael Jordan tonight, but he provided a nice adrenaline boost on the offensive end.
Still just 22 years old, Trent needs to build on this performance and harness the power of his 3-point shot with more consistency. Even though the Raptors didn’t come out on top, Trent looked confident and in command on offense, and Toronto should be very pleased with how he has played so far.
OG Anunoby could easily have a strong case for this Player of the Game honor, but Trent gets the nod here by the slimmest of margins.
Toronto Raptors veteran Chris Boucher is in a major funk.
Dragic was terrible, VanVleet seemed to have lost his shooting skill, and Svi Mykhailiuk was playing defense like a popcorn vendor who got mistakingly put into the game, but Boucher tops them all in terms of his ineptitude. Called out by Nurse earlier in the week, Boucher responded with a disappointing showing.
Boucher only got five minutes on the court, and did he ever make the worst of that time. Boucher was 1-3 from the field, got cooked on defense multiple times, and ended the night a -10 despite only playing in such limited minutes.
The Raptors need the few shooters they have to make plays consistently, and Boucher simply hasn’t managed to do that, as he is 8-30 from the field this season. VanVleet at least has 17 assists and fought like hell until the final whistle, while Boucher created some serious questions about the rotation going forward.
The Raptors have two more matches on this homestand against the Pacers and Magic before traveling to Indiana and New York for a pair of road games. This team is as inconsistent as the day is long, and they need to find some way to be more grounded as soon as possible.