The Toronto Raptors were on night two of a back to back tonight as they welcomed another former Raptor back to Toronto. DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls were in town for a national broadcast game which meant another former Raptor — Vince Carter — was also in the building.
I feel like it's initiation for any new Raptor player to fall for a DeMar Pump Fake™️— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) January 19, 2024
The newest Raptors — Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora and Kira Lewis Jr. — were also available for the game.
Toronto started their seemingly new permanent (until Jakob returns) lineup of Immanuel Quickley, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett and Jontay Porter.
The Raptors and their fans are still reeling from the news yesterday that Toronto Raptors legend Pascal Siakam was traded to the Indiana Fever.
With that, the roster is adjusting to losing their biggest scorer. Maybe it was emotions that led to their 78 point first half performance in yesterday’s game, but that immediate offensive luck did not repeat tonight.
While the game was close for most of the second half, the Raptors did end up losing 116-110 to the Chicago Bulls.
Not to throw around the word “Moral Victory” too much, but it was leaning towards one of those. Here are some high points:
Scottie Barnes is the GUY
Two games into the “Scottie Barnes era” and we are seeing the full effects of his presence. Scottie scored 31 points on 11-18 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds and six assists.
Tonight he was sliding into that ‘number one scorer’ spot that Siakam previously took. He was finishing at the rim, getting calls, and being handed the ball in late-clock situations.
Scottie Barnes with 26 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks with lots of game left to play pic.twitter.com/VJ39oblDSa— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) January 19, 2024
He also had a fantastic night defensively, grabbing three blocks and three steals on the night. One of his blocks was on an incredible play that was almost called goaltending but was ruled just a block.
Overall, a great night from Scottie despite the loss.
Scottie Barnes looks to have taken Pascal Siakam's spot in Rajakovic's rotation & Barrett has slid into Barnes' spot.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) January 19, 2024
Barnes is playing all or majority of the first quarter, then coming in later in the 2nd quarter.
RJ Barrett Playing Top Tier
RJ Barrett is playing the best basketball, maybe of his life, since touching down on Canadian soil. The guy is incredibly physical in the paint, and just everywhere rebounding, assisting and getting to the free throw line.
Maybe it’s the Canadian air, maybe it’s the change of scenery. There are a few inconsistencies — some decision making and late game situations — that are hold RJ slightly back, but that is just being knit picky.
The New Guys In Town
No, not Barrett and Quickley, those guys are basically veterans now. Bruce Brown, Kira Lewis Jr., and Jordan Nwora touched down in Toronto today after being traded from Indiana yesterday.
All three were made available to play in tonight’s game against Chicago. While Nwora and Lewis did not see any action, Brown did.
Despite the whirlwind few days and not knowing any of the plays or his teammates, Brown had a great showing.
He scored 15 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal, shooting 7-10 from the field.
Our time with Brown may be fleeting, but we seem to be in for a good time, not a long time (maybe).
The Raptors will head to New York Saturday for a game against the New York Knicks.