Fans were shocked Friday night when the Toronto Raptors were unable to close out against the Orlando Magic after dominantly winning against them just over a week ago. While some Raptors performed well in Friday nights game, others left something to be desired.
It was Pascal Siakam that led the effort for Toronto with 36 points, seven assists and nine rebounds. Fred VanVleet pitched in 19 points, and six assists on the night, while Scottie Barnes had just six points.
Yet, it was another third quarter slump from the Raptors that allowed the Orlando Magic to take over. Frank Wagner led the Magic with 34 points. The 2022 no.1 overall draft pick, Paolo Banchero had a good night as well scoring 23 points.
As for injuries, the Raptors continue to miss Precious Achiuwa, Juancho Hernangomez and Otto Porter Jr. Joining them, to the dismay of Raptors fans, could be O.G. Anunoby — the defensive powerhouse is struggling with hip soreness and is questionable.
The Magic will be Missing Wendell Carter Jr, Jonathan Isaac, Jalen Suggs, Gary Harris, and Chuma Okeke.
Catch the Raptors play the Orlando Magic tonight at 6:00 p.m. on Sportsnet.
In Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic, the only Raptors players to come off the bench were Gary Trent Jr., Chris Boucher, Thad Young and Khem Birch. Trent Jr. led bench scoring with 20 points.
Boucher had 10, while Young had five and Birch had one. While Nick Nurse is known to keep a tight rotation, we should still expect a little more from the bench. Keeping Trent Jr. as the leader of the bench seems to be working — so expect Nurse to continue that method.
A little more from Young and Birch, as well as Hernangomez and Porter Jr when they are healthy would really help the Raptors. They need people to come up and score on those tough third quarter stretches... which leads me to—
A couple weeks ago, we were have a VERY different conversation about shooting slumps. To recap, Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes AND Gary Trent Jr. seemed to be struggling to see their shots go in in recent games. Add on the fact that Pascal Siakam was out with injury.
Well, now Pascal is back, and obviously we’re not worried about him. I mean, he scored 36 points in the last game against Orlando. He’s fine, we were never concerned he’d have trouble coming back.
Over the last two games, it seems like Fred VanVleet has begun to get himself out of whatever kind of slump he was in. He scored 20 against Orlando on Friday and 25 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. A good performance by him tomorrow would be a good indication that he is on the up.
Gary Trent Jr. also seems to be getting over his slump. He has scored at least 15 points in four of the last five games, coming off the bench. He seems to be acclimating well to his new role leading the bench — like it’s motivated him to perform. He scored 20 points in both the Orlando game Friday and the Boston game a week ago. That is a fantastic sign — and personally, coming off the bench, he’s doing his job. No complaints.
Unfortunately it seems like Scottie Barnes is still up and down when it comes to shooting. He scored 21 against Boston, but only six against Orlando on Friday. He scored 17 against Orlando LAST week as well as Brooklyn, but only 13 against the LA Lakers.
Hopefully he evens out a little more, because the team could really benefit from a consistent 20 or so points per night from Barnes.
The Raptors usually struggle in the first and third quarters. In Friday’s game, Orlando led for most of the game, but part of the reason the Raptors struggled was because they lost the first quarter 37-25.
Coming out of the half, they lost the third quarter 27-24. They make it really hard on themselves to catch up when they put themselves in these offensive holes.
When you get to the fourth quarter, and you’re behind because you lost the first quarter by a large margin, but then your starters are tired — you don’t make it easy for yourself.
If the Raptors can work on starting better — both at the very beginning of games and out of the half — they wouldn’t be in such a hard spot at the end of the game.
Orlando is starting to seem like a familiar opponent to the Raptors — catch the third match up between these teams tonight at 6:00 p.m. on Sportsnet.