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Five Daily Thoughts: VanVleet lead Raps to much-needed home win

Some curious officiating nearly ruined the night, but Fred VanVleet drove the Raptors home.

Milwaukee Bucks v Toronto Raptors Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors got a much-needed — and well-deserved! — win last night, but it sure wasn’t easy. Even without Giannis Antetokuonmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks are a tough out. And then, of course, there was the, er, other factor...

1. Hoo boy, that nearly went sour

The Raptors looked to have last night’s game in hand before… well, things got weird. The officials overturned a foul drawn by Pascal Siakam, and flipped it to an offensive foul, fouling him out. Then they called a foul on Precious Achiuwa, even though Khris Middleton jumped into him on a three-point attempt; then they called a loose ball foul on Precious when Middleton missed his third free throw.

Thankfully Bobby Portis also missed a FT, but that was just a really perplexing series of calls. It didn’t help that that Precious went on to miss two free throws of his own, when fouled after a Pat Connaughton miss. But that just set up our rookie hero to save that day!

2. Rookie of the month robbery

Look, I can’t get too upset about Rookie of the Month honours, but I do feel like Scottie Barnes should’ve won the award for October-November. Not that Evan Mobley isn’t awesome, but Barnes is averaging more points, rebounds and assists (it’s close! BUT.), and he’s played in more games.

Mobley actually has slightly higher better advanced stats — and his team has won more games. Whatever. Scottie was robbed!

Aside from that — how great was Scottie last night? He made some rookie mistakes, sure, but he guarded Khris Middleton pretty well all night (and according to Nick Nurse, Scottie asked for the assignment), had a huge clutch bucket with two minutes to go, and a massive offensive rebound tap-out with three seconds go.

3. Freddy Melons

How freaking great was Fred VanVleet last night? A massive 29 points while being hounded by Jrue Holiday, and just owning the offense in the fourth quarter.

Pascal Siakam was also excellent, and I think the offensive threat that Gary Trent Jr. represents helped open the floor for both those guys. Obviously it helped that the Bucks were undermanned and undersized, but it was good to see that the Raptors have a good all-around offensive game like that, while playing their best defensive game in weeks.

4. Tell that to the HQ mentions

Ironically, yesterday this popped up on Twitter, cataloguing how much each fanbase complains about the officials.

Those numbers might look different after last night!

That aside, if you’re even remotely a part of Raptors Twitter, you have to think that seems low for Raptors fans, right? I mean, we complain… a lot. And it’s not always justified, let’s be honest.

(It was totally justified last night.)

5. Toronto? Never been there, man

As I watched Rodney Hood warm up for the Bucks last night, I remembered that he was on the Raptors for about five minutes last season… but of course, he never played a game for Toronto in Toronto! And it got me thinking about this bizarro fraternity of non-Toronto Raptors players.

  • Hood
  • DeAndre’ Bembry
  • Aron Baynes
  • Alex Len
  • Jalen Harris

Freddie Gillespie at least got a couple of pre-season games this year, and Henry Ellenson played here with the 905 pre-COVID.

It’s hilarious that Baynes, who was such a disappointment last season, is the holder of a record that will (hopefully!) never be broken: Most games played by Toronto Raptor without ever playing a game in Toronto.