Gary Trent Jr. and the Toronto Raptors would have surprised absolutely no one if they came out and laid an egg against the Milwaukee Bucks. Even without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton not suiting up, Toronto was at a disadvantage after playing the Knicks in an exhausting overtime win on Monday.
The first half could not have been more bipolar. Toronto surrendered an insane 44 points in the first stanza, looking wholly disinterested at the same time. Following a 40-point outburst of their own, the Raptors actually went into halftime with an advantage after scoring 74 first-half points.
While the hot and cold Fred VanVleet did everything he could to stay in a groove and keep Toronto in this game on the back of one of his best games of the year, Milwaukee ultimately won by a 130-122 scoreline. The Raptors had won four of their last five games, but their momentum appears to have been sapped.
In a game that was as wild as we’ve seen all year, the performances of the eight Raptors who got on the floor ranged from puzzlingly bad to extremely encouraging. Which players stood out above the rest, and which ones had a nightmare game to forget?
Gary Trent Jr. was on fire for the Toronto Raptors.
Trent has been the subject of a good chunk of trade rumors in the last few days, as the Raptors seem hellbent on trying to avoid paying him close to nine figures in free agency. While that makes some sense, his play in the last few weeks has been so impressive that it makes it hard to believe Toronto will just ditch him.
Trent, who had averaged 22.1 points per game in his previous 11 contests prior to lacing up against Milwaukee, finished the game with a solid 28 points on 10-19 shooting. The trade talks may be swirling, but Trent has continued to ball in spite of them.
While VanVleet has an equally deserving case for this award, his struggles against Jrue Holiday on defense helped Trent win out here. Brook Lopez may not have liked it, but Trent put together another excellent performance in what is quickly becoming a career-year north of the border.
OG Anunoby played very poorly for the Toronto Raptors.
Anunoby remains a tremendous defender, but the Defensive Player of the Year buzz is starting to die down. On top of the fact that OG has been mired in a general slump during most of the last few weeks, his offensive play has been putrid at times. You never know what OG you’re going to get in a given game.
Anunoby had just three points on one made field goal after three quarters, finishing with five points on 2-13 shooting. On a night where VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. were both in sync from 3-point range for the first time in what feels like forever, Anunoby was poor from deep and looked completely out of sorts when trying to finish in close.
Since Christmas, Anunoby has seven games in which he has shot 40% or below. Both he and the Raptors want him to have a more involved role on offense, but that’s not going to happen if the shooting stays poor and the finishing looks ineffective. If VanVleet gets hot, fans can turn their guns on Anunoby and start throwing him in the trade machine.