Raptors inefficient offence allows Bulls comeback in exhibition

Toronto led by 10 at half in lone home pre-season tilt

Scottie Barnes, Raptors
Scottie Barnes, here in an earlier game vs. Utah, had seven points and eight rebounds in a Sunday night exhibition loss to Chicago. The Toronto star left the game after an on-court collision. Courtesy: Raptors Twitter 

The Toronto Raptors fell to the Chicago Bulls 115-98 at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday night as offensive droughts continue to be a familiar theme in the pre-season.

Chicago’s unmet energy coming out of halftime led to a 6:16 stretch where Toronto was outscored 20-7, and 38-16 in the fourth quarter.

The Bulls were led by ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan who nearly tripled-doubled in just 26 minutes on the floor. He checked-out of the game at the end of the third quarter with an efficient 21 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and three steals.

His co-star, Zach LaVine, played a ho-hum game finishing with just nine points on 33 per cent shooting and five turnovers.

Despite the loss, Toronto excelled on the defensive end, finishing with 16 steals and four blocks as a team.

In an impressive second quarter sequence, O.G. Anunoby blocked LaVine at the three-point line two possessions in a row. Anunoby finished the night with four points, a steal, and two blocks, but with zero threes.

Unfortunately, Anunoby wasn’t alone with his shooting woes. The three-point efficiency issues that plagued Toronto this pre-season (and in large parts of last season) continued in this contest, shooting just 8-for-36 (22.2 per cent) from distance.

They shot 5-of-42 (11.9 per cent) from 3 in their previous two games.

The free throws were improved relative to the Raptors’ previous three pre-season contests, making 22 on 31 attempts (71 per cent).

They made just 57.9 per cent of their free throws Friday night against the Rockets.

Bulls big man Andre Drummond had the eye-popping performance of the match, appearing to have gone through a modernization of sorts. He made three, three-pointers in as many attempts. Drummond has made 15 threes throughout his 10-year career.

The Raptors backcourt starters Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. did most of their damage in the first quarter, building an early 38-27 lead that Toronto held onto until the middle of the third.

VanVleet scored 10 of his 13 points and swiped three of his five steals in the period, gradually taking a backseat to give his younger teammates more opportunity. Trent was six-for-eight from the field and a perfect four-of-four from the line for 17 points on the night.

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, who limped to the locker room in the third after a collision with Nikola Vucevic, returned to the game and finished with just seven points and eight rebounds. The reigning Rookie of the Year once again got run at point, but struggled to execute, turning the ball over three times while unable to log a single assist.

It is unclear if the Raptors intend on using lineups without any of their guards in the regular season, especially given their pre-season struggles.

As a whole, the Raptors struggled to create plays for one another, collectively logging just 14 assists compared to the Bulls 29. It’s yet another concerning pre-season trend that is in defiance of the team’s continuity.

Raptors found little success running set plays, instead finding most of their success attacking mismatches in the flow of the offence.

Toronto’s reserve unit made a later than usual entrance into the game, Justin Champagnie being the first among them who checked into the fourth for a mere eight minutes. It was the sophomore’s pre-season debut returning from a hip injury.

He was unable to make an impression in his bid for one of the final two spots on the Raptors roster, finishing the night with just a point and a rebound in eight minutes.

Jeff Dowtin was once again the most impressive of the Raptors’ regular season hopefuls. The guard has a knack for getting to his spots while handling the ball — a skill in high demand on the ball handling deprived roster. He finished with six points on three-of-four shooting with two steals.

Josh Jackson couldn’t replicate earlier pre-season performances, forcing his shot more than usual. He finished with two points on one-of-nine shooting.

Bulls 18th overall pick Dalen Terry was the only player to come off the deep bench for coach Billy Donovan tonight. He scored five points in his 15 minutes on the court.

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Posted: Oct 9 2022 4:49 pm
Filed under: Basketball Sports