The Toronto Raptors faced off against the visiting Chicago Bulls in their second game after the Pascal Siakam trade and their second game in this completely new era. There were some new faces who joined the team yesterday and battled as well.This was a hard fought game in which Toronto showed a lot of grit for most of this game despite ultimately losing 116-110. In their lone TNT game of the season, Scottie Barnes stood out like the star that he is and nearly willed this team to victory all on his own.
This game was extremely low scoring when it began, it took both offenses some time to get into rhythm. This was a game in which the absence of Jakob Poetl was extremely apparent, as it has been in the many games he has missed so far. Chicago is by no means an elite paint-scoring team, in fact, they were 28th in paint points going into the game last night but with the way they were playing last night you wouldn’t know that. Jontay Porter got the start in Poetl’s absence once again and Nikola Vucevic was giving him all he could handle early on. Vucevic was working in the post, and he was eating on the offensive glass as well. Toronto’s paint defense wasn’t going well but Scottie Barnes and RJ Barrett made sure this game wouldn’t get out of hand.
Barrett did most of his damage in the first half and it was the same brand of aggressive basketball heh as played since becoming a Raptor. Attacking off the catch, taking dribble handoffs all the way to the rim, and earning free throws. Barrett scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half and he was instrumental in Toronto keeping this game close. The returning Demar Derozan made life tough for Toronto and he did it in the same ways he scored countless points during his Toronto days, the mid range. Demar scored 24 points in this game and once Demar got to his spots Toronto was at his mercy. He was hitting fadeaway middies, he was pump faking for free throws, it was really the stereotypical Demar scoring game. Coby White also had a big imprint on this game and he really took advantage of Toronto’s poor defense. White, who is known for his outside shooting prowess practically lived at the rim last night, slithering his way to layups and steadily driving into the heart of the defense for 23 points of his own.
Jontay Porter had a pretty solid game last night and showed that he may have found a home in Toronto. Porter isn’t the best defensively but he showed a willingness to bang in the post with Vucevic, and his size was used as a deterrent toward the rim well at times last night. Where he really popped was on offense, his jump shot looked strong last night and he made good decisions as well. Newest Raptor Bruce Brown also stood out last night as he scored 15 points and grabbed 7 boards. Brown is a perfect piece to fit next to Barnes and his off ball movement was wonderful last night. He is constantly cutting toward the rim, and he is a pretty savvy guard screener as well, he is a piece that every team would love to have and he made a big case for him to continue playing in Toronto last night.
The biggest takeaway from this game is the masterclass that Scottie Barnes put on. Barnes finished with a statline of 31 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks and to say his imprint on this game was massive would be an understatement. Barnes was steadfast in his pursuit of attacking the basket, and he did this both on and off the ball as well. Whether he got the ball in the mid range are and had to bulldoze his way to the basket or it was in the pick n roll and he squeezed his way to the basket after the catch, he made sure to always be attacking. Defensively Barnes was seemingly everywhere, he was helping and drives and sprinting maniacally back out to contest threes, he was in passing lanes getting steals to spark fast breaks, and he was protecting the rim during his minutes as the “big” for Toronto. This was the prototypical Scottie Barnes game and naturally he had it on national television.
Although Toronto lost, with this new iteration of the team it is a loss that you can stomach more so than before, Toronto will face off against the New York Knicks next and try to get back into the win column against OG Anunoby.