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Raptors top Knicks in 2021 Las Vegas Summer League opener

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Malachi Flynn and Scottie Barnes played starring roles as the youth-driven Raptors defeated the Knicks 89-79

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Are you not entertained? If Masai Ujiri felt like yelling that to us, Gladiator-style, following the Toronto Raptors’ 89-79 win over the New York Knicks, well, we couldn’t really blame him.

After all, the Raptors organization has taken a few lumps from the fanbase the past week, after a lacklustre performance in free agency that saw them do… well, nothing really, except re-sign Gary Trent Jr. and make a few adjustments around the margins.

So it was surely rewarding for Ujiri and Bobby Webster to see the young Raptors look so energetic and alive in their summer league debut.

Yes, the Summer League caveats still apply, about the level of competition and the meaingingless-ness of the outcome of games and so on. But after a week of sturm and drang, it was fun to, well, have fun again.

Since this is Summer League, we’ll eschew both a proper recap and a five thoughts and mash them into one. Let’s go!

In control

The Raptors trailed most of the first quarter, falling behind by as many as five, but a 17-4 second-quarter run put them ahead and they never looked back.

While some credit has to go to the Raptors, the Knicks didn’t do themselves any favours, shooting 18-for-43 and missing 18 of their 20 three-point attempts. Rust+Summer League, an explosive combination!

Let it fly, Malachi

It wasn’t that long ago that we were all lamenting Malachi Flynn’s inability to knock down three-pointers as he got more and more minutes down the stretch of the season. So it sure was nice to see him bury 3-of-4 from downtown today. He topped it off with a slightly ridiculous step-back, too!

It’s too early to say whether or not this is just summer league confidence or actual improvement, but as first signs go, it’s a positive one.

Not so positive though: Only one assist for Malachi. Summer League is a bit of a me-me-me affair, so not too much of a take away here, but let’s see that number go up.

All over the gym: Scottie Barnes

The rookie definitely showed flashes of why the Raptors chose him with the fourth overall pick. Scottie Barnes was jumping for offensive rebounds, disrupting passing lanes and finding teammates — all the things we were told he could do.

The shooting, as expected, is a work in progress, but the confidence Barnes showed in getting up 18 shots is a positive too. He finished with 18 points, 10 boards and five assists.

The Dalano and David show

The two second-rounders got some minutes in today too. Dalano Banton played 18 and did a fine Chris Boucher impersonation:

Meanwhile, David Johnson started at the two, and, well, he missed five of his seven shots and finished a team-worst -18, which is quite a feat in a 10-point win. Let’s call David a work in progress, then.

Out in force

This may be my sentimental side (what’s up, friendship Twitter) but it really does seem like a positive sign to see so many Raptors veterans out there supporting the team. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr. and Khem Birch were all curtsied; Blake Murphy spotted OG Anunoby as well.

The Raptors have had a strong team presence in recent years, but that seemed easier team’s outlook was more positive. Now,with a rebuilding roster, seeing the vets out there supporting the youngsters, well, that just gives me the warm and fuzzies.

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Well, that’s a positive start, both for the youngsters Barnes and Flynn and for the franchise overall, which is now firmly in its post-Kyle Lowry era (a single tear falls). The Raptors are back in action Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors.