They can't all be pretty, but a win is a win.
The Toronto Raptors clawed their way to victory in Chicago, pulling off a comeback win over the Bulls.
Entering the fourth quarter with a tied score, Chicago went on a quick 7-0 run to put the Raptors in a hole. Toronto was able to fight their way back into the game behind stellar defensive performances from Marc Gasol and OG Anunoby, while Kyle Lowry overcame early shooting woes to step up with a clutch bucket to seal the game.
Star forward Pascal Siakam's struggles continued despite jumping out to a hot start, but Toronto was able to use a team effort to get back int the win column, snapping a three-game losing streak.
For more on the gritty road win, we have you covered with takeaways below.
Pascal Siakam's hot start, cold finish
Following the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Pascal Siakam talked about how he needed to be more aggressive.
He "walked the walk" with the way he started this contest, making his presence felt early on. Siakam jumped out to a quick 13 points in the first quarter, shooting 5-for-10 from the field with a pair of 3s. His 10 shot attempts were more than double any player on his team and he was looking to score every time he touched the ball.
The pressure he put on Chicago's defence in that first frame was evident, and it looked like we were going to be in for a massive bounce-back game from Spicy P.
Impeccable ball movement pic.twitter.com/NBmc0h45eo- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 10, 2019
Well... the rest of the game didn't follow suit with his first quarter performance.
Through the final three frames, Siakam shot 2-for-8 from the field and missed his sole 3-point attempt while failing to record an assist with two turnovers. He did get to the line a few times, finishing the game 6-for-8 from the charity stripe, but the reigning Most Improved Player of the Year couldn't find his touch around the basket.
He was getting to his spots in the post and wasn't forcing the matter by any means, his shots just weren't falling.
He finished with 22 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block but shot 38.9% from the field, which was the lingering problem from the team's three-game losing streak.
Siakam will have to put his best foot forward, as his next matchup comes against his former teammate and Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard.
Gasol and Anunoby anchor the defence
Defence was the name of the game in this one and Marc Gasol and OG Anunoby put on a clinic on that end of the floor.
As usual, Marc Gasol served as the Raptors defensive anchor and rim protector, but tonight's performance was a throwback tribute to his 2013 Defensive Player of the Year days.
Yes, the Bulls scored 46 points - half of their scoring total - in the paint, but Gasol came up with a number of big-time blocks down the stretch to help the Raptors complete their fourth quarter comeback.
.@MarcGasol = Clutch pic.twitter.com/xjkG0S4fcR- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 10, 2019
Even when he wasn't blocking shots or coming up with steals, it was his presence in the paint that made things difficult for any player looking to attack the rim, forcing them to adjust and take uncomfortable shots.
Gasol finished with a complete stat line of nine points, nine rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals, and even his defensive counting stats don't do justice to his performance on that end of the floor in this win.
Anunoby was equally as impressive on the perimeter, shutting down any player he marked while filling Chicago's passing lanes often. He played a key role in forcing the Bulls' leading scorer Zach LaVine to a lousy 6-for-18 from the field and 3-for-10 from 3-point range for just 20 points. He also, like Gasol, came up with big stops toward the end of the game, including this chase down block on LaVine.
OG AnuNOby pic.twitter.com/LWXnKRk9B6- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 10, 2019
Anunoby finished with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals in a great all-around game.
Lowry and Ibaka update
Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry each made their return to the Raptors lineup last week after missing time with injuries.
Without these two in this contest, Toronto simply would not have won the game.
When you look at the box score, you'll see that Ibaka shot an ugly 3-for-11 from the field and Lowry shot an even uglier 3-for-15 from the field. But each of these two players stepped up and made winning plays when their team needed it.
Ibaka was a huge spark off the bench with a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds. Even more impressive is that six of those 14 rebounds came on the offensive glass, creating six second-chance points for his team.
As for Lowry, although he couldn't get much of anything to fall, he still made an impact with a team-high seven assists and seven rebounds. And despite his shooting struggles, it was the All-Star point guard who attacked the rim and hit a tough layup in traffic that ended up winning the game for the Raptors.
It's going to take some time for Toronto to get used to having these two back in the lineup, and it's going to take some time for these two to shake off the rust of missing nearly a month of basketball. But it was encouraging to see both Lowry and Ibaka find ways to make a difference in this contest despite their shooting woes.
The Raptors advance to 16-7 with this win, snapping their three-game losing streak. They have one day of travel back to Toronto before one of their biggest games of the regular season. On Thursday, the Raptors host Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers as their former teammate and Finals MVP will receive his championship ring in his first return to Scotiabank Arena.