Raptors: Winners and losers from difficult defeat against Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - NOVEMBER 18: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz drives past Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - NOVEMBER 18: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz drives past Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors would’ve been underdogs against a quality Utah Jazz team with everyone healthy, but Nick Nurse and the rest of the squad were dealt a concerning blow before the game when OG Anunoby was ruled out due to a hip injury. Calling this a recipe for disaster would be an understatement, even with Gary Trent Jr. and Pascal Siakam.

Against all odds, Toronto came out firing in the first half. The 3-pointers were falling and the defense was forcing plenty of Utah turnovers. Rather than impose their will in the second half, Toronto managed to let the Jazz go on a 37-14 run to put the game away for good and extinguish the Raptors’ energy.

Toronto went from leading 70-68 in the quarter to losing 119-103 as their absolutely wretched team defense continued to drag the team down. Toronto’s 6-3 start seems like it was ages ago, as this team is now 7-9 and sliding down the standings in the Eastern Conference.

Whenever you lose by a scoreline like this, it’s tough to find a ton of exceptional players. Still, despite all of the chaos and disappointment, the Raptors had a handful of very promising performances.

Final. 103. 81. 119. 118

Winners and Losers after the Toronto Raptors’ game against the Jazz.

Winner: Gary Trent Jr.

Without Anunoby in the lineup, the Raptors gave Trent the greenest light you’ve ever seen to kick-start their offense. Toronto didn’t have the best night overall, but Trent continued to show why he is one of the better young two-way guards in the East.

Trent recorded 31 points on 12-18 shooting and 5-11 from 3-point range. Not only was Trent connecting from deep, but he’s showing that his improvement inside the arc is no fluke. There is plenty of blame to go around, but Trent should escape any sort of criticism tonight.

Winner: Khem Birch

Birch was inserted into the starting lineup with Anunoby on the mend, moving Siakam to the power forward spot to make room. After some really poor showing against the Pistons and Trail Blazers, Birch played one of his best games of 2021-22 despite playing against Rudy Gobert.

Khem Birch gave the Toronto Raptors some nice production inside.

Birch may have gotten into foul trouble, but 14 points in 24 minutes against a very deep Jazz frontcourt is worth mentioning and praising. With OG out of commission for what could be a long time, Birch’s rock-solid play in the post could help Toronto soldier on.

Loser: Pascal Siakam

The Raptors haven’t looked like themselves since Siakam returned, but most of that inefficiency could be chalked up to the fact that the supporting cast hasn’t done their part. As good as Pascal was against Detroit and Portland, he was putrid for basically the entire contest against Utah.

Not only did Siakam tally just four points while turning the ball over four times, but he connected on just two of his 14 shots! This game was as bad as any over the last few years for Siakam. If Toronto wants any hope of contending for a playoff spot this season, Pascal needs to do a complete 180 and figure out why he has been so ineffective.

Loser: The entire Raptors bench

Malachi Flynn played 22 minutes and had some positive moments in the first half. Two-way forward Justin Champagnie has a few nice plays worth mentioning. Other than that the bench was a complete dumpster fire. The fact they combined for 20 points is somehow misleading, as most of those points came with the result of the game already decided.

The Toronto Raptors didn’t have many good performances from the bench.

Dalano Banton was a -23 and had arguably his worst game in the pros. Svi Mykhailiuk was -23 and only made one shot his value lying almost exclusively in his offense. Gobert and Hassan Whiteside were demolishing Chris Boucher in the paint.

Some of the stars didn’t pull their weight, but it’s impossible to win in the NBA with your bench providing so little on both sides of the ball.

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