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Quick Reaction: Raptors 113, Suns 120

Toronto battled back after a slow start, but ultimately kicked off a four-game road trip with a loss to Phoenix.

Box Score
R. Barrett37 MIN, 23 PTS, 2 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 9-16 FG, 3-4 3FG, 2-3 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -7 +/-

RJ Barrett was taking some tough looks in the first half (2-for-6), and it felt like he wasn’t really taking shots in rhythm like usual. He really changed that in the second half, taking open looks from downtown rather than taking an extra dribble and attacking with pace in transition. He might feel like he has to do a bit more with all the injuries, but he’ll ultimately remain most effective playing through his strengths.

O. Agbaji24 MIN, 3 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1-6 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -8 +/-

He’s SO athletic and once he can harness that into more production, it’ll be great. Until then, his impact is limited, especially when he’s unable to hit those stand-still threes. He did have an awesome baseline drive up-and-under attempt in the first quarter, that ultimately missed, but looked pretty cool.

K. Olynyk28 MIN, 8 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 3-9 FG, 1-6 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -1 +/-

A game like this you see why Olynyk is better served next to a true rim-protector or coming off the bench. He did his usual ball movement stuff, and picked it up on both ends in the final frame, but was consistently getting lost on defence, especially out of pick-and-rolls, and wasn’t much of a presence against Jusuf Nurkic (who had 12 rebounds in the first half, more than all of the Raptors starters combined). Right after I tweeted that Olynyk couldn’t do much to slow down Nurkic, on cue, the Bosnian big man bowled over Kelly and threw down an easy dunk…ouch.

G. Trent Jr.36 MIN, 30 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 11-22 FG, 5-13 3FG, 3-3 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -7 +/-

Gary Trent Jr. knew this team needed scoring and he provided exactly that. His first thought was always to find his own look and honestly, in this game, it was very welcome. Wasn’t really forcing looks, just being aggressive and his 16 points in the first half (on an efficient 6-of-11 shooting) was the only double-digit scoring effort by the Raptors through two quarters. He kept up that aggression and efficiency the rest of the way, scoring on his terms, and it’s a major reason why the Raptors made it close.

I. Quickley39 MIN, 21 PTS, 9 REB, 18 AST, 1 STL, 9-17 FG, 2-7 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 2 +/-

Immanuel Quickley was in tough against the Suns as they had size that made it difficult to find solid looks early. If he got a switch off Grayson Allen, he’d usually get Kevin Duran. So, he didn’t have a lot of easy opportunities…especially with Jusuf Nurkic roaming in the paint. However, he did a fantastic job getting into the lane and navigating the ball around through kick-out or dump off passes. He beat his previous season-high for dimes before the third quarter was over, set a new career high, and more impressively, he did it while turning the ball over just once. Usually, I’d want IQ to establish the passing game through his scoring gravity but in this one, he did the opposite. He was so potent dishing the ball, it opened up his game off ball, and found his scoring opportunities on secondary actions, it was a great development to see!

G. Dick31 MIN, 12 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 4-12 FG, 4-10 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -11 +/-

First sub off the bench and after not making a three last game (snapping a 12-game streak) he started the next streak right away as he drilled his second attempt from downtown – a corner three of course. He’s settling into shooting pockets very comfortably and it’s a treat to see how ready he stays in those corners, there’s just no wasted motion. He hasn’t had that level of success above the break yet, as he struggled hitting his shots outside of the corners in this one, but he remained aggressive and looked confident, which was positive. His closeouts on defence left a bit to be desired as he allowed a handful of drives trying to run players off the three-point line, but he can’t figure everything out at the same time.

J. Nwora03 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -5 +/-

Checked in alongside Freeman-Liberty but wasn’t out there long. A minus-five in three minutes is rough but no one else was really much better during that span in the second quarter, so it’s not totally a knock on him.

C. Boucher24 MIN, 11 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 5-6 FG, 0-0 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 0 +/-

First quarter minutes?! It’s clear they were desperate for some big man depth if they let Chris Boucher play that early. His time on the floor was pretty typical to a Boucher outing – and the team needs more of that! GREAT energy, making an impact around the paint, a little sloppy on the offensive end at times, while still making some crazy highlight-reel plays. Whether the coaching staff thinks he should or shouldn’t be in the rotation appears to be inconsequential now given how thin they are in the front court. Hopefully he’ll continue to get some quality minutes. I get it’s wins and lessons mode, but a major lesson the squad can learn is how to consistently put in the kind of effort Boucher does.

J. Freeman-Liberty18 MIN, 5 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 1-4 FG, 1-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-

Javon Freeman-Liberty is doing exactly what he needs to, not trying to take on too much, and hopefully, it earns him more minutes. He’s had to adjust from being THE guy on the 905 to just a guy for the Raptors and he’s done it admirably. He settled into a nice three for his first basket, timed some quality cuts, and even swatted a shot on the fastbreak. With Carton’s availability in question, he should get some more time on the floor.

Darko Rajakovic

Look, I don’t totally hate the idea of doubling Durant or Bradley Beal to start, but you have to be VERY sure of your defensive rotations with the NBA’s top three-point shooter (by percentage) in Grayson Allen roaming outside the arc. And to be honest, I don’t know why, (given what we’ve seen recently) they would have that confidence. The rotations were abysmal to start, and it cost them…a lot. It was good to see the team adjust and start to figure things out in the second half, but you hope they don’t have to fight out of such big deficits every time. After letting Allen catch fire, the Raptors were basically on pace with the Suns the rest of the way, so how can they avoid the first-quarter blowout? He did stick with Boucher down the stretch, and deserves some credit for that.

Things We Saw

  1. G(ray)son Allen was 7-for-8 from three for 21 points in the first quarter and finished with eight triples…after Trey Murphy III drilled 10 threes against them the previous game. Any guesses on which role player goes bonkers from downtown against the Raptors next?
  2. I believe this was the first time seeing Scottie Barnes on the sideline post-injury, and it was nice seeing him be so vocal and active. He really wants to see the squad succeed and his level of energy is appreciated! God knows, they need all the positivity they can get.
  3. Immanuel Quickley was one rebound shy of his first career triple-double, and I think it’s safe to say he’s proven to be the Raptors point guard moving forward.