Title: OG Anunoby and Marc Gasol lead Raptors to defence-fueled escape of an ugly loss in Chicago
Date: December 9, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ bare-minimum victory against the Bulls, one that stopped a mini-skid but really shouldn’t have been such a close call.
CHICAGO — A few good minutes can go a long way against a bad opponent.
The Toronto Raptors shouldn’t have needed them. Losers of three straight, a visit against the Chicago Bulls was, in theory, exactly what they needed. The team has lacked rhythm and the marks of its personality in dropping decisions to quality opponents. Sometimes, a mini-slump needs a palate-cleansing game, and the Bulls — 8-16 coming in, on the second night of a back-to-back with a flight delay that got them back from Miami at 4 a.m. — looked every bit the part.
The Raptors couldn’t hold up their end. Down Fred VanVleet to a knee contusion and with only 10 bodies available, the issues that plagued them last week persisted and then worsened. The shooting was unsightly, any semblance of rhythm on offence found absent. Pascal Siakam was much better in the first quarter than he was the last few times out, then quieted down as the Bulls sent extra attention his way. Kyle Lowry’s shot was off after a strong bounce-back in Philadelphia, eroding what little secondary scoring Toronto has around Siakam. Pick and rolls went nowhere, and when drives did go somewhere, the results were maddening — the Raptors took a 97th percentile rate of shots at the rim, per Cleaning the Glass, and converted at a 26th percentile rate (55.3 percent). To add just a bit of salt, they also shot a decidedly not-nice 69 percent at the free-throw line.
Check it out on The Athletic.