On Saturday, the Toronto Raptors bounced back from a tough road loss to the Boston Celtics by blowing the the Chicago Bulls on their homecourt.
The Bulls kept it close in the first quarter, but the Raptors started to distance themselves by halftime. Toronto then outscored Chicago 36-22 in the third quarter to take control of the game, winning by a final score of 108-84.
For more on the game, here are some takeaways...
Matt Thomas steps up
It's only been three games, but Toronto's second unit has been - shall we say - underwhelming so far this season.
In the season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans, the second unit combined to score 23 points, led by Serge Ibaka's 13. They scored slightly more against the Boston Celtics (26), led once again by ... Ibaka's 13.
The Raptors didn't get a huge performance from their bench against the Bulls, but they at least got some positive minutes out of someone not named Ibaka in the competitive portion of the game. Matt Thomas, who had yet to see regular season minutes in a Raptors uniform, logged 10 minutes in the first half and scored six points on a perfect 2-for-2 from the 3-point line.
His first 3-pointer came off of a pindown screen from Marc Gasol.
Obvs @Theiceman_21 first NBA bucket is a 3. pic.twitter.com/QUigggP65t- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 27, 2019
The second was set up perfectly by Siakam, who drew a double team in the post and kicked it out to Thomas in the opposite corner for an open catch-and-shoot jumper.
The Raptors don't just need scoring off the bench. They need someone who can knock down an open 3-pointer. Norman Powell should be that player, but he's now 3-for-12 from 3-point range this season. Ibaka can knock down the occasionally 3-pointer, but that's not his strength. Then there's Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, neither of whom are threats from deep.
All of this is to say: Thomas brings something the Raptors desperately need to the table, and we got a taste of that in a short stint on Saturday.
An all-around showing for OG Anunoby
Toronto's leading scorer through three quarters wasn't Pascal Siakam. It wasn't Kyle Lowry. It wasn't Fred VanVleet. It wasn't Serge Ibaka.
It was OG Anunoby.
Anunoby led the way with 17 points, doing so on 7-for-11 shooting from the field. He had a couple of strong finishes at the rim off of drives and cuts, and went 3-for-6 from the 3-point line.
OG dunkin' everything tonight pic.twitter.com/pK09rSeVAY- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 27, 2019
Anunoby also had four blocks, his biggest coming against Thaddeus Young on a dunk attempt in the first half.
OG SAID NAW FAM pic.twitter.com/PN91c8JBpc- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 27, 2019
That sort of two-way play is more like the Anunoby the Raptors got in his rookie season. If he can continue to build on these types of performances, it'll go a long way in getting his career back on track and helping him tap into his tremendous potential.
A vintage Serge Ibaka performance
Which is to say: Ibaka had some big blocks...
Things you love to see- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 27, 2019
This 👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/5fESdaT28U
...as well as some big dunks.
Sick. Wicked. Nasty. pic.twitter.com/qImTJBPYsd- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 27, 2019
Ibaka finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 20 minutes off the bench. He was, once again, Toronto's leading scorer off the bench.
Ibaka's play so far this season has been a bright spot for the Raptors.
A quiet night for Zach LaVine
There was a lot of talk in the summer about Zach LaVine being a potential first-time All-Star this season. There are nights where he looks every bit of an All-Star - his 37-point performance against Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday being a perfect example - but he needs to be more consistent to be recognized as one of the best players in the league.
LaVine struggled in Chicago's season opener, for example, scoring 16 points on 7-for-17 shooting from the field. He also committed five turnovers in what turned out to be a disappointing loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Then on Sunday, LaVine scored only 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field.
It wasn't only LaVine's fault that the Bulls lost to the Raptors in the way they did - Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr., Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young and Coby White each failed to score in double figures - but being this team's best creator, they're going to struggle to score against any team in the league when LaVine doesn't have it going.
The Raptors will be back in action on Tuesday, when they host the Magic for the first time since last season's first-round series.
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