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Shorthanded Raptors get back into the win column against Bulls

Toronto perseveres with an extremely injured roster in a win against Chicago.

Toronto is in the midst of an extremely unlucky break with injuries and this has caused multiple starters to be on the shelf. RJ Barrett was out, Immanuel Quickley was out, Jakob Poetl was out and still, Toronto persevered in a 118-107 win over the Chicago Bulls. There were times where this game seemed to be out of hand for Toronto, but they fought back to end their losing streak. This game was the true definition of a next man up mentality for Toronto and it took immense help from multiple guys deep on the roster to pull out this gutsy win.

Gary Trent Jr. had 24 big points which included 13 in the first quarter and he was a well needed flamethrower for Toronto. He always seemed to be making a three at the right time, and often found these times to be in transition.

The shocking performance of the night goes to Jordan Nwora. Nwora was a part of the Pascal Siakam trade but early on in his Raptors tenure he found it next to impossible to fight into the rotation. With the recent injury issues though he has been needed in a bigger bench role and to say he stepped up last night would be an understatement. Nwora scored 17 points off the bench which included shooting ⅘ from the three point line. Some of these shots were simple spot up possessions but on a few of them Nwora was on the move, he even had a step back three from 26 feet which was an and one. Nwora’s shot making off the bench lately has been something that Toronto has been searching for so if he can continue production it will bode very well. Most likely he won’t continue it at this pace but if the outside shooting is valuable he will be a very important bench piece.

Thaddeus Young also played a great game and finished with 16 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds. With the hole that Toronto has had as center due to Poetl being injured Young had to step up and fill that void as best he could and last night he did it well. Defensively, Young is not an imposing force, but on the offensive end he added immense value. Young found himself constantly in position to get off his patented post hook shot. These shots often don’t serve as the main action for Toronto but it was a great release valve for them all night. Young’s playmaking is what pops about his game whenever he’s on the floor. Young was hitting cutters in stride, playmaking from the elbow, he had a dart to Gary Trent Jr in transition for a three, his playmaking just opened up so much for Toronto and was very valuable.

Bruce Brown played an outstanding game as well as he finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. He attacked Chicago with his trademark floater repeatedly. Whether it was as he was rolling after setting a screen, or he was driving with the ball in his hands himself, he constantly found his way to the teeth of Chicago’s defense and he softened them up from inside. Brown also added some well needed punch on defense. Constantly mucking up actions from Chicago and cleaning up plays that would be surefire buckets for them his value on that end was great. Brown’s performance was very well needed to pull out this win.

Dennis Schroder and Scottie Barnes both put on great passing performances. Schroder finished with 10 assists and Barnes finished with 7 assists for 17 total and their playmaking provided so much value for Toronto and was a key reason why they were able to pull out this win. Scottie Barnes draws so much attention when he’s on the ball, especially when he’s in the post and this can lead to great looks for his teammates. Defenders try to dig on Barnes’ post possessions and he just lasers a pass to the man they left. In the 4th quarter Barnes had two amazing passes to Thad Young on the interior. On one of them Barnes was sizing his man up at the free throw line and in one motion, fired a pass with his left hand to Young for a layup. On the other one Barnes sent a bounce pass after wrapping around a defender for another Young layup. It wasn’t the best scoring game from Barnes but his laymaking was still valuable nonetheless.

Even when the Bulls lead ballooned to 16 points, Toronto never wavered, they fought and clawed back and showed a lot of toughness to pull out this win. It’s nice to see Toronto get back into the win column, and they face the Houston Rockets in their next game as they look to extend their win streak to two and make progress toward getting that elusive pizza party.