10 things: Raptors bounce back with blowout win over Bulls

William LouNBA reporter

Here are 10 takeaways from the Toronto Raptors’ 108-84 win over the Chicago Bulls.

One — Taking care of business: Good teams respond after tough losses, and the Raptors took out all their frustrations from Friday’s loss to the Celtics by smacking the Bulls. Granted, it’s hardly an achievement to dominate a perennial lottery team, but it was good to see the Raptors show the right mentality. Toronto limited Chicago to 30 percent shooting from the field, while recording 27 assists with five players reaching double-digits in scoring.

Two — Breakout performance: OG Anunoby played one of the best games of his young career as he was brilliant on both ends. Offensively, Anunoby found the right opportunities to cut to the basket for thunderous dunks, while also knocking down three triples as part of his 17 points. He was even better on defense, as Anunoby showed astute timing and awareness with his help defense as he logged a career-high four blocks. The 22-year-old is in a much better place, both physically and mentally, as compared to last season and he’s well on his way to a breakout campaign.

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Three — History: The first of Anunoby’s four blocks was nothing short of spectacular, as he rose to meet Thaddeus Young at the basket before stuffing both Young and the ball to the hardwood. Anunoby (along with Terence Davis) played on an AAU team that Young sponsored when the two were teenagers, and Anunoby joked before tip-off that he wouldn’t trash talk Young. But after recording that highlight, it must be hard to stay silent.

Four — Impacting the game: Pascal Siakam didn’t score 30, but he still broke the game wide open with his playmaking in the third quarter. In the first half, Chicago found great success in blitzing Toronto’s guards with double teams off the high screen, and the likes of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka failed to capitalize. Nick Nurse’s adjustment at halftime was to use Siakam as the screener, and he proceeded to pick the Bulls apart. Siakam is an excellent playmaker on the move, and he even confidently drained a pair of midrange jumpers. It’s essential for great players to score, but the very elite make the game easier for everyone, and that’s an area for improvement moving forward.

Five — Area of concern: The more pressing concern with Siakam is his propensity to foul. In all fairness, Siakam has gotten the whistle of a rookie Jakob Poeltl, rather than that of a maximum player, but he must learn how to stay in the game. Siakam fouled out against the Pelicans, and similar to the Celtics game, he picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter tonight which limited his minutes. Siakam’s natural instinct is to compete on every defensive possession, because that’s what ultimately earned him his start, but his role is now different. Siakam needs to be on the floor for the offense to work, and so he must dial back his defensive intensity, or better yet, learn how to play more in control.

Six — Pride kicked in: The funny thing with Marc Gasol is that he’s never going to stuff the boxscore, and so on paper, it looked as if Gasol just posted yet another five-point night. However, this was Gasol’s best effort by far out of his first three games, as he was active on the glass, a deterrent around the basket, and a heady playmaker on offense. The Raptors can win most games if Gasol reaches this level, but they will also need him to score when they eventually encounter elite defenses. But for now, this is a start.

Seven — Rotation battle: There’s a new frontrunner for ninth man in Nurse’s rotation, and that’s sharpshooter Matt Thomas. Stanley Johnson got the first look tonight, but he was borderline disastrous as he stepped out of bounds, clanked an open three, and elbowed Otto Porter in the nose all within an adventurous five-minute stint. Thomas got the next look, and he promptly drained two threes, which earned him more minutes later in the game. Thomas is definitely a liability on defense, but he competes hard, he is unselfish, and he has an elite NBA-level skill, which can’t be said for the other candidates.

Eight — Lost in the shuffle: There was hope for a breakout season with Norman Powell, but yet again, the fifth-year shooting guard looks lost. It’s not as if Powell doesn’t have skills — his three-point shooting is much sharper, he is effective going downhill, and he hustles on defense — but he just doesn’t have a good sense of when to impose himself on the offense. Powell should get more time with Gasol, as he can mitigate Powell’s shortcomings by making the decisions and creating chances for Powell to finish.

Nine — Sensational effort: Serge Ibaka is single-handedly holding down the bench, as he is the only reserve that consistently makes a positive impact. Ibaka recorded a handful of impressive blocks, and he was money as usual around the basket and in the midrange. Ibaka had 18 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks in just 21 minutes. There’s a legitimate case for Ibaka to start over Gasol, but the Raptors badly need Ibaka’s offense to balance out the lineups.

Ten — Trash talk: There’s a language warning on this, but Kyle Lowry is really savage for calling out Kris Dunn’s broken jumper. Dunn, by the way, finished 0-of-5 from the field.

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