Anunoby injured last frustration for short-handed Raptors

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With scoring leader OG Anunoby out of the lineup Thursday night in Utah, the Raptors desperately needed a great effort from Pascal Siakam.

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It didn’t have to be. Siakam’s fifth match back from off-season shoulder surgery was easily his worst. His shot would not fall, but worse, he lacked his usual energy in the 119-103 victory of the Utah Jazz.

Siakam shot 2-for-14 and had as many turnovers (four as points) in a game he would best flow the toilet.

With Scottie Barnes quiet as well and the bench largely invisible there was not enough offense to get around, although Fred VanVleet (24 points), Gary Trent (season-best 31) and Khem Birch (14) had it going. Even more annoying for a team that wants to build an identity as a defensive jersey was the complete lack of defense played in both the first and third quarters.

The Jazz gained 32 points on 65% shooting in the opening quarter and Utah shot 67% in the third, though fortunately only four of the 12 buckets scored in the third came from a three-point range, allowing the Raptors to track by just 12. Toronto missed 11-of-12 three-point attempts in the third after finishing the first half on fire with three straight VanVleet triples.

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The Raptors actually led 63-61 at the break before things fell apart.

“They got a lot of buckets at the edge tonight,” head coach Nick Nurse later said.

“Obviously that was hard to handle. And they also just shot it very well from three. That’s a good shooting team, a really hard team to defend. But we just didn’t cover enough at the edge or at least wrapped them up and made them shoot free throws or things like that. ”

The Jazz entered the game boasting the NBA’s most effective offense and true to form, managed 34 assists, nailed 19 triples (compared to 10 on 26% shooting from the Raptors), received an expected 20 points from star Donovan Mitchell and an unexpected 20 of. Rudy Gay, the former Raptor who made his Jazz debut. Gay nailed five quarterbacks in 18 minutes, missing just a single shot. Jazz star center Rudy Gobert hit all seven of his shooting attempts for 14 points and added 11 rebounds.

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The Raptors fell to 7-9, including 5-3 on the road.

A WOUND LEAKS A THORN ON THE SIDE

A nurse, like most Raptors fans, just wants to see what the team’s front office has put together.

The bad news that Anunoby would miss time due to a hip pointer suffered in practice was the latest blow to a group that hadn’t been full force for more than a month in the season.

Anunoby was in the middle of an explosive campaign, averaging career bests in points (20.1 per game), assists (2.7) three-point marks, minutes and a free throw percentage, while also receiving many of the toughest defensive tasks.

“He wants to play. He’s obviously disappointed he can’t play, ”Nurse told Zoom out of Utah ahead of Thursday’s game.

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“He wants to know when he can come back and I’m not sure we know that now.”

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Toronto only recently returned former All-NBA forward Siakam to the lineup and also missed star rookie Barnes, potential star-studded VanVleet and greats Precious Achiuwa, Birch and Chris Boucher occasionally, as well as Yuta Watanabe, who still doesn’t have to. play.

“It looks like we’ve had at least three or four guys for every game this year,” Nurse said

“It’s a little frustrating, but what are you doing?” We had to take a few steps back and reset but that’s part of it, ”Nurse continued.

“But God, I’d love to see the team all the time.”

As would Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and the rest of the Toronto executives. The franchise is in the middle of a rework and needs to know how the players fit together and what they might be capable of as a unit.

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This is difficult to collect when every other night the rotation is different due to injury absences.

A nurse put Birch in for Anunoby Thursday night, restoring a traditional center to the first group against Utah giant Gobert. Anunoby will be replaced by a committee while he is out. That would probably mean more time for a shooter like Svi Mykhailiuk, as well as Birch and Dalano Banton.

THREE MORE, PLEASE

A nurse wants some Raptors to start launching more three-pointers. He mentioned Barnes and Birch specifically pre-match. Birch let outside shots fly like never before when he joined Toronto for 19 games last season, making 1.9 attempts per game. This year he returned to 0.4, which he averaged in his last year with Orlando.

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But it’s Barnes who really needs to start expanding his game, Nurse said.

“What are we waiting for,” Nurse asked, mentioning her strong work from the free throw line (79%) and excellent mid-range shooting.

“I’m disappointed that Scottie doesn’t take three or four threes for a game.”

Barnes only tested 11 quarterbacks in 13 games by Thursday, making just two of the shots. He only tried one during his previous four games and two over his previous six.

Barns tried two in the game. Birch did not try anyone.

AROUND THE EDGE

The Raptors don’t have time to rest, with an appointment at Sacramento coming Friday night. The Kings will look to change things, losing 5-of-6. The poor start to the season put head coach Luke Walton back on the hot seat. Sacramento ranked seventh in offensive performance ahead of Thursday’s games, but only 23rd on defense … A nurse said Watanabe “gets stuck” on how long it takes to heal. Watanabe desperately wants to play and would be online for a few minutes with Anunoby out.

@WolstatSun

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