Raptors offence shaky in loss to Chicago Bulls

38-point 1st quarter for Toronto wasn't sustained

OG Anunoby takes a fadeaway three pointer over Demar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls as Scottie barnes boxes out Nikola Vucevic
O.G. Anunoby, shown here last February, looked to work on his three-pointer over the summer, making him that much more versatile offensively. On Sunday night, he was 0-for-three, as the work continues. Photo: Courtesy Toronto Raptors  

Demar DeRozan scored 21 points as the Chicago Bulls took down the Toronto Raptors 115-98 in NBA pre-season action on Sunday night. 

The fan favourite continued his strong play against his old team, filling up the stat sheet with eight assists, six rebounds, and three steals. In the five games he’s played at the Scotiabank Arena since being traded he has averaged 24.2 points a game. 

Of the Bulls (2-1) starting five, only centre Nikola Vucevic managed to crack double-digit points with 13. Zach Lavine had an uncharacteristically off night, only scoring nine on three-of-nine from the field. 

Javonte Green had 17 points off the bench with most of his makes coming in garbage time, and perhaps more impressively, backup centre Andre Drummond went three-of-three from deep, an uncommon shot for the former All-NBA player to take.

Pascal Siakam led the way on offence for the Raptors (2-2 in exhibition), as he scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He also made his mark felt on defence, picking up a steal and a block. 

Gary Trent Jr. and Fred VanVleet were opposite images of one another, with the latter scoring 17 points on six-of-eight shooting while the usually steady Freddy only dropped 13 on a poor four-of-14 from the field and three-of-12 from long range. 

Despite the loss, Toronto used this set as a chance to experiment with their half-court offence, an aspect of their game that was sorely lacking last season. In the first half while the starters were on the floor, they had assists on seven of their 13 makes. 

The Raptors took advantage of a lacking Bulls defence by scoring the most points they’ve scored in the first quarter so far this preseason with 38, a much needed boost after the loss to the Rockets on Friday.

VanVleet started the game off as steady as ever, nailing a quick catch and shoot three on the first possession of the game after a drive and kick from forward Siakam. They then proceeded to score again on a similar set later in the frame.

The Toronto point guard scored 10 points in the opening quarter, but was just as loud on the other end, coming through with three pesky steals for Toronto. 

Toronto ran a ton of different plays, ones that weren’t common-place last season, operating out of dribble handoffs and back-cuts off pick-and-rolls. However they still looked uncomfortable creating this way as the exhibition schedule rolls on.

The majority of the buckets scored in the second quarter came in isolation as Toronto’s play-calls in the half court started to get stale. Trent Jr. or Siakam began to operate out of isolation breaking down their defender one-on-one more often.

They only managed two assists in the frame but still found themselves up 10. 

Raptors’ offence really took a tumble in the third quarter, scoring only five points in the first six minutes of the frame as they let the Bulls take the lead on the back of a 20-5 run. They would end up being outscored 30-23 in the quarter. 

Late in the third, both coaches decided to pull their starters. Toronto bench players such as Josh Jackson, Jeff Dowtin Jr., and Justin Champagnie got an opportunity to battle it out for some of the final roster spots on the team. 

Dalano Banton seemed to stand out as the Raptors ended up losing the fourth quarter 38-18, sealing the comeback victory for the Bulls. The Rexdale native scored 11 in his 16 minutes of game time and may have effectively sealed his spot on the roster this coming season.

Raptors play their final pre-season game on Friday in Boston against the Celtics.

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Posted: Oct 9 2022 4:45 pm
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Kai Gammage
Kai Gammage is an aspiring sports journalist and independent content creator, focusing mostly on basketball and American football. Currently in his 3rd year at Centennial College.