The Toronto Raptors entered Saturday’s night contest vs Utah with losses in three of their last four, and without franchise cornerstone Kyle Lowry available to play due to rest. Even with their own injury issues, the Jazz were able to surge late and walk away with a 106-102 victory on their home floor, in what was an impressive character win for one of the Western Conference’s top teams.
Although Toronto certainly missed Lowry, the Jazz have been even more decimated by injury as of late, with both Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley unavailable on Saturday night. With two of their key stars out, a lot of the pressure was put on Bojan Bogdanovic, who answered the call without hesitation.
Bogdanovic scored 34 points on 12/22 shooting, including an impressive 6/11 clip from beyond the 3-point line. Joe Ingles stepped up for Utah as well, scoring 15 points and contributing with 9 assists in what was an all-around effort. Rudy Gobert only scored 13 points, but completely dominated the glass with 16 rebounds, while Jordan Clarkson had an impressive game off of the bench scoring 15 points and leading the second unit.
For Toronto, most of the offence went through Fred VanVleet in the loss, leading to a bit of an inflated stat line. VanVleet scored 30 points, but did so on 11/25 shooting, which included a large number of low-percentage shots, especially in the fourth quarter. Despite some late misses, Khem Birch had another solid performance with a 17-point 10-rebound double-double. As it has been too often since the trade deadline, the thinned-out Raptors bench provided little-to-no production, as Toronto got 13 points off of their bench compared to 32 for the Jazz.
The offence dried up once again in the fourth quarter for the Raptors, as at one point late in the quarter the team was shooting an abysmal 4/21 from the field. Too often the Raptors were taking low percentage shots, as the ball kept sticking and key players tried to make tough buckets in isolation. The ball movement was lacking, and the half-court defence from Utah absolutely stumped the Toronto offence, even without two of their best players. One of the biggest issues for Toronto this season has been consistent scoring, and the Raptors were not able to find that from anyone on the roster on Saturday night.
Toronto came out of the gates hot and lead after the first quarter, and built on that lead in the second, carrying a 6-point advantage into the half. Even after a bit of a lackluster third frame, the Raptors lead by 4 heading into the fourth, and felt as if they would have a decent chance to steal a road victory from Utah considering their health issues. As previously touched upon though, the fourth quarter was a disaster on offence as Toronto only mustered 13 points, which were few enough to allow Utah to walk away with a win.
In other action around the league, both the Wizards and Bulls lost, opening up the door for Toronto to make serious ground with a win. With their inability to do so though, the Raptors have fallen right back to 3 games out of a spot with only eight games remaining on the season, and it seems as if a miracle would now be needed to see Toronto enter that 10th place play-in position.
Looking ahead, the Raptors will have little time to recover as they travel to LA to face the Lakers on a Sunday night back-to-back, while the Jazz will look to win three of their last four in a Western Conference tilt versus the Spurs on Monday night.
VanVleet – 30 PTS 6 REB 7 AST
Birch – 17 PTS 10 REB 6 AST
Anunoby – 17 PTS 5 REB 4 AST
Bogdanovic – 34 PTS 4 REB 4 AST
Ingles – 15 PTS 3 REB 9 AST
Clarkson – 15 PTS 3 REB 3 AST