It wasn’t pretty at times, but this was a big win for Toronto, taking the season series and tiebreaker against Chicago.
The Bulls and Raptors went back and forth in a defensive and offensive struggle for most of this game. Chicago shot 52 percent from the field compared to 40 from Toronto but the Raptors kept things afloat by winning the rebounding battle by 12 (19 offensive boards), plus eight in the turnover margin (20 to 12) and getting 23 more shot attempts as a result. The Raptors also made 10 threes in the second half (three from Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher apiece who both came off the bench), matching Chicago’s total the entire game.
Toronto is now within a half game of Atlanta for eighth in the East. Ultimately, the focus of getting a top six spot has shifted from catching the Knicks (six game win streak) to freefalling Brooklyn. The Nets are four games ahead, with Miami sandwiched in between.
This one moved fast and was clearly in the works before announced. Barton was ready to play hours after his signing from the buyout market was made official. Barton only played four minutes but had the assist to Pascal Siakam on one of the prettiest offensive plays of the game.
Barton had a rough stint in Washington (7.7 ppg, 38.7% FG) after being part of Denver’s core for eight seasons.
Fred VanVleet returned after missing three games in a whirlwind of a week. He celebrated his 29th birthday, welcomed a new baby girl Layla and also dealt with a death in the family. He talked about Barton’s addition to the team.
Positive signs from O.G.
This was Anunoby’s best game since returning from his wrist injury. O.G. had been struggling with his three point shot (2-12 in the previous three games) and finding his offence in general. Anunoby only had seven attempts in each of the last two games, finishing with 13 points combined. Nick Nurse made sure to get Anunoby involved early, drawing up the first play for him on a backdoor cut where Jakob Poeltl found O.G. for a layup. He also made two threes and finished with 17 points.
O.G’s best sequence came in the fourth where he drew a charge on DeMar DeRozan. It was originally a and-one play for DeMar but an excellent challenge from Nurse reversed the play. Seconds later, Anunoby and DeRozan met on the other end.
A quick mention that Jeff Dowtin Jr. was part of the bench getting hype on that play, but wasn’t in Nurse’s 10 man rotation last night after impressing with Fred out. Anunoby had an ice pack and wrap on his left wrist postgame. He described his play vs DeMar in classic O.G. fashion.
4th quarter B
Matt Devlin is bringing that name to life so that’s what we are rolling with. Scottie was 1-8 in the first three quarters, missing a few bunnies and yelling at the refs on a couple of those. As we’ve seen before, Barnes tends to rise to the moment when he is needed most in fourth quarters regardless of how he had been playing prior.
Nurse went with a smaller lineup down the stretch, using Trent instead of Jakob Poeltl. This put Scottie in his best defensive role, a roaming big that absolutely terrorized the Bulls with weakside help. Scottie’s blocks also sparked his offensive game.
All four of Scottie’s blocks came in the fourth. He also put on the finishing touches with a put back.
Barnes nearly had a fifth swat but it was called a goaltending. Scottie thought otherwise.
Also plenty of praise on how Scottie changed this game for good from coach.
Up Next: 19 games left. Get ready for numerous times the phrase “Biggest game of the year” will be mentioned. The Raptors have a critical two game baseball series in Washington starting on Thursday.
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