1 stud and 1 dud from Raptors win against shorthanded Bucks

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 02: Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 02: Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors didn’t win a home game during the entire month of November, and it didn’t look like the squad was getting ready up to win one against the mighty Milwaukee Bucks. Gary Trent Jr. may have returned, but can Pascal Siakam and the rest of the squad really take down Giannis Antetokounmpo?

In a masterful stroke of good fortune, Antetokounmpo sat this game out, as it was the second half of a back-to-back. Toronto took advantage with a strong offensive start while managing to finally get things turned around at home.

The Raptors ended up with a 97-93 win against Milwaukee in what was a nail-biter of a finish. Despite Khris Middleton catching fire in the second off and some genuinely horrendous officiating that gave the Bucks some extra free throws in the fourth quarter, a clutch Scottie Barnes tap-out on a Precious Achiuwa miss gave Toronto the victory.

The Raptors should be very pleased with how most of their impact players performed. While multiple starters put on solid performances, there were a handful of players that didn’t have their best night at the office.

89. 97. 81. Final. 93

Fred VanVleet helped keep the Toronto Raptors alive on offense.

Barnes’ newfound 3-point shot and Siakam’s inside scoring without Antetokounmpo in the lineup helped them make some compelling cases for inclusion in the stud category, but VanVleet takes home this honor once again. Both in the box score and on the court, Wichita State’s finest made a huge impact.

VanVleet recorded 29 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter, while recording five rebounds and four assists. Milwaukee appeared ready to catch fire as soon as the fourth quarter started, but the steady hand of No. 23 helped calm this team down and lead them to a win.

VanVleet continued to prove that he is the most impactful player on this team. The dynamic of any Raptors game completely flips when he retreats to the bench. When the Raptors were starting to let things slip away in the fourth quarter, VanVleet reentered the game and made plays on both ends to push them in front.

With OG Anunoby and his 20 points per game still not in the lineup, VanVleet is doing everything humanly possible to make sure this offense is still quality. Without VanVleet starring like that, the Raptors may have easily been blown out in the final stanza.

Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. looked rusty against the Bucks.

Trent made his return after missing some time due to a calf ailment, but he didn’t look like the knockdown scorer that was carrying a disappointing Raptors offense for large chunks of time. Trent was getting plenty of shots up in this game, but very few of them were falling.

Trent made just three of his 16 shots while going just 2-10 from 3-point range. Trent’s startling improvement in his efficiency from the field did not show up in this contest, as he was chucking up shots left and right with the hope that one make would eventually jump-start him.

Trent will in all likelihood be fine. Shooters like him will occasionally have bad games like this, especially from 3-point range. However, this game also showed how limited this offensive attack can be at times when he isn’t dialed in from the 3-point range.

Trent was handed a contract worth nearly $52 million to help provide shooting for a team that went into the year deficient in that area. The Trent we saw on the West Coast trip looked capable of being a primary scorer in this league, while the Trent we saw against Milwaukee was inconsistent.

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