Full roster returns, but Raptors lose to Jazz 115-112

Unlucky bounces curse Pascal Siakam again for seventh straight loss.

7 mins read
Photo from the Raptors official Twitter account

First, check out Sahal and Oren’s recap in The Rap Up.

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

That’s how Pascal Siakam felt, as his potential game-tying three spun around the rim and out. The Raptors now have lost seven straight games for the first time since January 2012. This game was very reminiscent of the back-to-back losses to Golden State and Portland when Toronto began the season 2-8. The L’s were mercilessly piling up, but the bright spots were clearly there and a bounce or two were the difference between a win or a loss. Here’s a breakdown of the last five Raptors possessions:

Could you ask for better looks from Pascal in these situations?

Maybe this is some Thanos way of balancing out our bounces quota from Kawhi’s time here. Who knows.

“We ride with him no matter what,” Lowry said to reporters after the game. “For a guy that’s going to be in that situation, you’re going to miss a few of them. But keep shooting them because we believe in what you can do.”

End-of-game misses aside, Siakam mixed up his game nicely against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. He shot 4-for-10 from three, but they were all in rhythm shots. After a slow first quarter, Siakam attacked the paint and also found time to dish out nine assists as well. Re-finding chemistry with Kyle Lowry has been predictably easy, as Kyle found Pascal numerous times on slips that either led to a basket, a trip to the free-throw line, or created ball movement for someone else.

Skipping to another topic: Welcome back OG! This was the first time the Raptors had their full roster at their disposal in eight games, spanning over nearly a full month. Anunoby showed zero signs of rust in his 34 minutes of play knocking down open shots including a couple off the dribble, getting deflections for his four steals, and overall bringing respectability to a Raptors defence that had been allowing 121.7 points over the previous six games. The Raptors went back to their small ball starting lineup of Lowry-VanVleet-Powell-Anunoby-Siakam that had been working well before covid protocols temporarily derailed the season.

Fred VanVleet rebounded from his 2-13 return against Detroit with 17 points and nine assists. His knack for making impossible heaves at the buzzer also came back to form:

Maybe to his dad’s delight, Malachi Flynn also returned and played 18 minutes. Paul Watson and Aron Baynes rounded out the nine-man rotation, including the Raptors usual best six. Everyone else received DNP-CDs.

The Raptors made nine more threes than the Jazz (21-12). Utah leads the NBA in that category.

With more reliable options back, Lowry and Norman Powell picked their spots on offense. This will be a transition period in terms of when to be aggressive for Norm especially, who had been averaging 30.3 points during the seven-game skeleton roster stretch in sometimes survival mode just to give the Raptors a fighting chance. Powell passed up a couple of open looks but in the fourth, he still showed his ability to get buckets with a transition three, hard take to the rim for a dunk, and another strong drive and kick out that was swung for a Siakam trey. Lowry added eight in the final frame as well, including a surprisingly wide-open three on a Utah defensive lapse that put the Raptors up 110-105 with 96 seconds left to play.

However, Donovan Mitchell took over from there with eight of his 31 points in the final 1:25 to put the Jazz up for good. Mitchell shot only 8-20 and missed all nine of his three-point attempts, but he went to the line 16 times. The Raptors as a team had only 14 free throw attempts. Utah shot 41, a massive disparity.

“It’s not the first time this year that one player has shot that many free throws against us and we’ve shot that little. Maybe I guess we gotta play better defence. Or not foul as much,” Lowry said.

Nick Nurse had a different take.

“Just a lot of calls man. Every trip, every possession was free-throws. Did they look more aggressive? We were twice the aggressor. Moving faster, cutting in harder, charging in further,” Nurse said.

Overall, this was another very winnable game turned loss that the Raptors led the majority of the way. The Raptors proved once again that when healthy, they can play with anyone even if it’s against the team with the best record in the NBA. Toronto has an upcoming back-to-back starting on Sunday in Cleveland, and then in Houston on Monday. With all the positives shown vs Utah, it’s hard to see this losing streak continuing further.

Last note from this game: Love the new OVO unis. Maybe tops on the Raptors jersey choices this season, but opinion varies of course.

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