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Five thoughts on last night: Raptors 95, Bulls 89

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After a first half to be forgotten, the Toronto Raptors found just enough hustle to squeak past the Chicago Bulls 95-89.

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 95, Chicago Bulls 89, Pascal Siakam Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Boy, the Raptors are really playing some forgettable basketball right now, aren’t they? Their last three opponents (Miami, Orlando, Chicago) have hardly been a murderer’s row, but the Raptors can’t seem to play with any consistency on either end, and it’s leading to some ugly basketball and some needlessly close wins (uh, and a rather embarrassing blowout in Orlando). Let’s hope this trend swings the other way fast.

On to the thoughts:

Please Wipe My Memory of That First Quarter

Remember that scene in Stand By Me where the one kid throws up at the pie-eating contest, and it starts a chain reaction and soon everyone is throwing up?

Yeah, that’s what that first quarter felt like to me. Just a bunch o’dudes puking their guts out all over the basketball court. 15-for-39 combined shooting, 0-for-7 from downtown. Ugh.

‘Nuff said, I guess. Who wants pie?

Well, at Least Things got Better in the Second Half

Oh, did they?

To be fair, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet recovered nicely from their awful first halves, and shot a very respectable 11-for-16 combined in the second half. The two teams combined for 105 points, which seems at least closer to a modern NBA score than the 79 of the first half. And it was... mildly entertaining? We had a Fred VanVleet banked-in triple. A VanVleet-Siakam fast break connection, something I’ve really missed this season. Ibaka swatting Zach LaVine. A gorgeous, Siakam-esque spin and clutch layup from Kawhi Leonard with two minutes to go. Lauri Markkanen draining a clutch three to keep it close with 1:20 to go which, as a Raptors fan, I could’ve done without, but still. Mildly entertaining, right?

Someone Plug Chris Boucher into the Matrix

If you’ll allow me a second cinematic call-back, remember how in The Matrix, you could plug in, have a program uploaded into your brain, and then you’d instantly know Kung Fu or whatever?

Chris Boucher needs that for Toronto’s offensive and defensive schemes. He’s often just a step or two out of place and that’s hurting the team when he’s on the floor.

But other than that, it looks like the kid can really ball. Look at this:

Again, probably a step slow on the rotation, but the recovery to get to that ball... damn.

Upload that data and maybe get him onto my patented cheeseburger and pizza diet, and he’s a rotation player.

You Win However You Can

This is the second straight game the Raptors have shot under 40% against a bad defensive team. Three nights ago they were blown out in Orlando, but last night they managed to secure the win; what was the difference?

Well, the Bulls are worse than the Magic, sure. But beyond that, give the Raptors credit for their hustle.

The Raptors were +8 on the glass, +14 on second-chance points, +11 on fast break points, +8 on loose balls recovered and +1 on deflections.

You know the mantra: When your shot’s not falling, find another way to contribute. The Raptors were able to do that collectively last night.

Return of the Fashionista

Ah, a new jersey, giving me the opportunity to play fashion blogger! I have mixed feelings about last night’s “Earned” white-on-red jerseys.

I’m not sure how I feel about these. I’m still a fan of the chevron with “North,” I think that’s great. And this look does evoke a certain... Canadian-ness. There’s nothing more Canadian than plain ol’ red and white.

But it might be a little too plain, with just the two colors. I don’t think you could bring the gold into these, but maybe a little black piping? I’d rank the three City/Earned jerseys 1) gold on black; 2) white on red; 3) gold on white.

Also, let’s talk about this:

That is a look I definitely like, and I wish I had the physique to pull off! (Cheeseburger and pizza diet, remember.) Oh well, New Year’s resolution, right?

Also, do we think that’s a regulation sized basketball?? I know Leonard’s hands are big but...

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All right, so who has tomorrow’s game pencilled in as a loss? Team in a shooting funk, Jazz playing better of late, New Year’s Eve hangover, looking ahead to the big matchup in San Antonio... hopefully the Raptors prove me wrong. Happy New Year everyone!