Fan Duel Toronto Raptors

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Quick Reaction: Raptors 106, Rockets 135

Raptors get bullied inside and lose reunion game against Fred VanVleet.

Box Score
S. Barnes33 MIN, 28 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 10-17 FG, 1-2 3FG, 7-8 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -10 +/-

Scottie Barnes played like someone who was just snubbed from an NBA all-star selection. He was one of the only Raptors players to play with any force and physicality – actually trying to get downhill. Just go look at his shot selection, he shot less than five shots outside the paint, it’s exactly what you want to see when the team is lacking rim pressure anywhere else. In the final seconds of the second quarter, Barnes sprinted down in transition and spun around Jabari Smith Jr. before finishing high off the glass with his left hand…it was two of his 16 first half points…and it was awesome, unfortunately no one else really followed his lead.

B. Brown26 MIN, 5 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 2-9 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 1 TO, -13 +/-

A really weird game for Bruce Brown. Half the time it felt like he was making great reads, a lot of good big-to-big passing, and playing heads-up defence. The other half he was barrelling down the lane taking off balance and highly contested layups that ultimately led to very few baskets.

J. Poeltl20 MIN, 6 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 3-5 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 3 TO, -17 +/-

It was nice to see Jakob Poeltl return after missing 11 games. We saw a bit of why the big Austrian was so dearly missed as he and Immanuel Quickley (who also returned from injury) looked productive in the pick-and-roll, scoring more times than not. But the other things we missed were rebounding and interior presence when he was gone and even with him back, that wasn’t there tonight…at all. Something else we all remember but didn’t miss was Jakob picking up fouls in bunches. He fouled out after 20 minutes of action and his night was done with eight minutes still left in the fourth quarter.

G. Trent Jr.26 MIN, 12 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 2 STL, 5-12 FG, 2-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -17 +/-

I feel like if I say we’re starting to see the Gary Trent Jr. of old, people may come for my head. It also doesn’t help my case when I say that, because what even is the “old” GTJ? Either way, it feels like we’re seeing that previous version of Gary more than the one we saw most of this season prior to January. He didn’t have the most efficient shooting night but he was taking smart shots, and little-by-little he’s getting back to being a pesky defender that gets deflections and impacts passing lanes.

I. Quickley30 MIN, 25 PTS, 1 REB, 6 AST, 0 STL, 7-16 FG, 6-11 3FG, 5-7 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -6 +/-

You immediately saw the things you missed while Quickley was out with a thigh contusion. The first play of the game he worked a PnR with Poeltl, a couple plays later he dropped a baseline floater, and he even hit a three after running into open space off the ball. It was nice to see him really get comfortable throughout the fourth, dropping three triples in the frame as he began to get his legs under him. In those moments you were reminded why the Raptors traded for the 24-year-old. However, in some of other moments, especially on the defence, he reminded you how much room he still has to grow.

D. Schroder22 MIN, 8 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 4-10 FG, 0-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -18 +/-

– This wasn’t floor general off the bench, lead the second unit, Dennis Schroder. This was “I once finished second in sixth man of the year voting,” Dennis Schroder. Seemed very determined to score and find his own shots in this one, and for what it’s worth, he was pretty efficient for most of the night. I always hope to see Schroder try and get others going, which wasn’t there in this one, but maybe he saw it was a lost cause, like the rest of us did.

T. Young25 MIN, 8 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 4-4 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-1 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -10 +/-

Thad comes in and Thad plays solid basketball. It really is that simple. Sometimes it feels or looks more impactful than other times, but it’s almost never glaringly bad, and tonight was no different. Asking Young to be the rim presence and layup deterrent the Raptors needed tonight, wound not be fair to a six-foot-eight, 35-year-old.

G. Dick24 MIN, 3 PTS, 7 REB, 0 AST, 3 STL, 1-8 FG, 0-4 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -19 +/-

Gradey Dick has had more positive moments than not in this latest stretch of appearances, and tonight felt like more of that, although maybe not as impressive. The rookie was hunted quite a bit on defence, but he kept his own, as much as he could. He makes up for what he lacks by putting his body on the line, like when he took two charges tonight. That puts Dick up to five, which now leads the Raptors this season. It sucks not to see him have a better offensive game, but it doesn’t help that he doesn’t get to do much on offence outside of garbage time. That’s less on him as the only shots he’ll realistically get are in the corners, in transition, or off misses.

J. Nwora16 MIN, 8 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 2 STL, 3-5 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -21 +/-

Weird to see someone who’s been on an impressive shooting stretch over the last two games play just 16 minutes. Even weirder that he took just five shots, just two of which came prior to garbage time.

J. McDaniels14 MIN, 3 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-3 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, -13 +/-

Why is Jalen McDaniels playing right now and not Otto Porter Jr? I don’t mean this disparagingly, but he offers very little on either end of the floor, at this point in time. If you’re courageous enough to put yourself through a re-watch of this game, watch McDaniels’ minutes near the end of the third quarter and ask yourself why he’s on the floor. He checks in, and the first thing he does is turn the ball over…twice.

G. Temple04 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -1 +/-

Garbage time.

Darko Rajakovic

There’s some days it feels like Darko Rajakovic is figuring it out, and there are others where it feels like it’s two steps back. Tonight was one of those days…BUT, that’s kind of expected with being a rookie head coach, and realistically his leash is longer on a team focused on development. However, decisions like Jalen McDaniels playing as many minutes as he did, not getting Nwora involved — who’s been a hot hand, or Otto Porter Jr. not being in the rotation, outside of garbage time just don’t make a lot of sense. It’s cool to see Darko call timeouts after big runs, but seldom are we seeing things change after those breaks.

Things We Saw

  1. The Fred VanVleet reunion game was always going to get people’s attention. How would FVV handle it? Would Scottie and Fred dap up pre-game (they did)? Who would get a technical first (Dillon Brooks…duh)? For all the potential tension over a split that was riddled with supposed dissatisfaction amongst players and fans, it was nice to see a franchise-changing player, with a one-of-a-kind story, celebrated. It was especially wholesome when Fred, Scottie, and Dennis all got tied up, battling over a loose ball, and it all ended with smiles amongst the crowd.
  2. I believe that was our first time seeing “headband” Scottie, and if this is how he plays with it, I say keep it.
  3. Raptors are now 1-2 to start a six-game road trip, BUT if they go 3-0 the pizza party is still in play. The joke is dead, I know, but Raptors fans need something to cheer for, right?