The Toronto Raptors lost their third straight game on Thursday night at the hands of the frontrunning Utah Jazz, 119-103.
The loss makes the Raptors 0-2 on their first west coast road trip of the season following a close defeat to the Trail Blazers earlier in the week. The Raptors were without star OG Anunoby, who will be out for “a while” due to a hip injury.
The Raptors struggled on the defensive side of the ball early in this one, allowing the Jazz to find their rhythm before they could even get settled. Toronto bounced back in the second quarter, finding offence through Montreal’s Khem Birch as well as from a few timely shots from Fred VanVleet, giving them a 2-point lead at halftime. The third quarter (as it has been previously this year for the Raptors) was a disaster, and allowed the Jazz to take complete control for the remainder of the game. Toronto was outscored 31-17 in the quarter which contained miscues on both side of the basketball. Offensively, the well completely dried up, as the Raptors were unable to make much of anything whether that be in the paint or from the perimeter. On the defensive end, the Jazz were able to get every look that they wanted, mostly in the paint against a Raptors frontcourt that wasn’t at its best. The Jazz were able to manage control through the final frame and cruise to a 16-point lead on their home floor.
The Raptors were led offensively by Gary Trent Jr. who scored a season-high 31-points on 12/18 shooting. His backcourt partner VanVleet was almost as effective, scoring 24 points along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Unfortunately for Toronto the offence stalled beyond them, as Pascal Siakam struggled mightily; scoring 4 points on 2/14 shooting. Scottie Barnes was mostly kept in check, scoring 10 points with 6 rebounds and 6 assists in 35 minutes. The Canadian, Birch was effective in spurts, finishing with 14 points. The bench was an issue for the Raptors on Thursday, with the leading scorer being Canadian Dalano Banton with 6 points.
The Jazz were aided to victory by veteran Rudy Gay in his first game of the season, scoring 20 points off the bench in just 18 minutes, at an impressive 7/8 clip. Star guard Donovan Mitchell finished with 20 as well, adding 4 steals. Rudy Gobert ended the night with a 14-point
11-rebound double-double, and Royce O’Neale scored 16 points in 29 minutes. The Jazz nearly unleashed their entire bench on the night, playing 9 different players for a combined 59 bench points.
The bench battle was heavily lopsided, but the overall shooting percentages made the difference in Thursday night’s loss. The second half cold spell for the Raptors led to box score numbers of 41% from the floor and 26% from the field, compared to a whopping 55% FG from the Jazz, which is good enough to win almost any night of the season. The Raptors were unable to put up any resistance on the defensive end, and it cost them a third straight loss.
Goran Dragic was again held out, while Malachi Flynn played a rare 22 minutes in the loss. Flynn struggled on both ends of the floor, making his case for increased minutes a bit of a harder sell. Chris Boucher was able to grab 8 rebounds, but was once again unable to shoot the basketball, which is something that could be said about most of the Raptors roster on the night.
The loss moves Toronto to 7-9 and continues their downward spiral from the early season winning streak. All hasn’t been lost in Raptorland, but between the tough close losses and injury issues, it’s starting to feel like things can get out of hand quickly if they don’t right the ship soon.
The Raptors will aim to right said ship on Friday in Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back, while the Jazz will enjoy the night off and take on the Kings on Saturday, one night after Toronto.
Trent Jr. – 31 PTS 2 REB 3 AST
VanVleet – 24 PTS 4 REB 4 AST
Barnes – 10 PTS 6 REB 6 AST
Gay – 20 PTS 5 REB 2 AST
Mitchell – 20 PTS 3 REB 1 AST
Gobert – 14 PTS 11 REB 1 AST