Even though Pascal Siakam was unable to perform due to a groin injury, Fred VanVleet, Christian Koloko, and the Toronto Raptors were not going to be shown any mercy by the Chicago Bulls. Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan were ready to stick it to an undermanned Raptors team.
After getting beaten down in the first quarter, a byproduct of trying to find their way without Siakam, the Raptors went into halftime with a lead thanks to some hot second-quarter shooting buoyed by the return of VanVleet. This was a very back-and-forth affair, with both sides trading leads as the fourth quarter began.
The Raptors ultimately won in a 113-104 war that went right down to the wire. Considering the adjustment necessary for Toronto to operate without Siakam in the fold, it looks like they did alright against an opponent that will likely be in the postseason picture at the end of the year.
The Raptors should walk away from this victory fairly pleased with how most of their big names performed, However, they could have really blown things open if some players had pulled their weight.
Christian Koloko was great for the Toronto Raptors.
While most Raptors went into the season expecting Koloko to primarily be a G League player, he has since earned four starts with various starters incapacitated. Despite getting thrown into a very difficult matchup against Vucevic and Patrick Williams, Koloko excelled in a way unbefitting a second-round rookie.
Koloko finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds, and a whopping six blocked shots. Koloko handled himself very well against premier competition while hitting double figures in points for the first time at the professional level. Altogether, not a bad day at the office for the Cameroonian big.
Koloko has played too well to be dropped from the rotation anytime soon, as his fondness for swatting shots at the rim and grabbing rebounds have become useful tools for this rotation to mess around with. VanVleet would have been an equally worthy winner, but Koloko’s defensive impact gave him the selection.
Precious Achiuwa wasn’t amazing for the Toronto Raptors.
Achiuwa and Boucher have been, without question, the team’s best bench players in the first few chunks of this season, as the former looks like the same high-energy switchblade from last year. That wasn’t the case in this game. Achiuwa never really got out of first gear on offense, likely due to some turnovers.
Achiuwa didn’t score his first points (which came on a transition dunk) until the last few minutes of the third quarter. While he had some big blocked shots, scoring five points while committing three fouls and coming in as a -20 for the evening was not the finest effort he’s ever put together.
The Raptors may have performed well in this game without Siakam, but they are not going to hang with every good team in the East if Achiuwa and the bench continue to fall short in supporting the offense. Achiuwa had some good moments in this game, but he and Gary Trent Jr. had some rough stretches.