1 stud and 1 dud as Scottie Barnes, Raptors run over Blazers

Jan 8, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (4) and Portland Trail Blazers guard Josh Hart (11) Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (4) and Portland Trail Blazers guard Josh Hart (11) Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors went through quite a taxing week. The increased volume of trade rumors and polarization of the fanbase amid some poor play from starters has made the environment around the team very edgy. A matinee against Damian Lillard’s Portland Trail Blazers isn’t ideal for getting on track.

Calling this performance a game of runs may be the understatement of the year. After the Raptors went on a 19-2 run in the second quarter, buoyed by their bench, the Blazers cut Toronto’s lead down to as little as three points before halftime.

Toronto held Portland scoreless for the first 4 minutes of the second half and pulled off a 14-0 run. After a crazy fourth quarter, the Raptors finished the game with a 117-105 victory that helped break a three-game losing streak and get some of the momentum back.

The Raptors had only a few players that didn’t play their best games tonight, as many of the big-name stars who needed to perform well for this offense to work at maximum efficiency balled out. After a very challenging homestand, Nick Nurse can breathe a sigh of relief after getting this win.

81. Final. 105. 34. 117

Scottie Barnes was on fire for the Toronto Raptors.

While All-Star contender Pascal Siakam may have had another impressive box score-stuffing night, Barnes beats him out here because of how he completely reversed the concerning slow start trend that has been befuddling him and Raptors fans for the last few weeks.

Barnes finished the night with 21 points and nine rebounds while putting forth one of his most robust defensive efforts of the year (two steals, two blocks). After padding his stats with quality fourth quarters in the last two games, Barnes made sure to announce to Portland that he was ready to go from the opening tip.

The Raptors need this version of Barnes to show up more frequently, as this offense can’t operate when he’s just standing at the free throw line looking to set up his teammates. The Scottie who showed up against Portland is the guy that Toronto thought they were getting when they started his second season.

OG Anunoby didn’t have his best game for the Toronto Raptors.

While Anunoby remains a virtual lock to make the All-Defensive team this season, he hasn’t always been the most dominant offensive player despite some steady volume. He came into this afternoon shooting just 39% from the field in his last five games, and he didn’t exactly turn things around in this contest.

Amid a few minor swirling trade rumors, Anunoby made just four of his 11 shots from the field and went long stretches of the game without being an active presence on the offensive side. Anunoby has had brief spurts of offensive excellence lately, but has very rarely been a primary or secondary threat.

The Raptors need Anunoby to return to his 2021-22 form. Not only was he scoring just as effectively, but he was a more reliable 3-point presence. While the Raptors played well as an offensive unit in this game, they might need Anunoby to find his shooting stroke again if they want to claw back into the playoff picture.

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