Anunoby looks like a new man on offence in Raptors’ win over Portland — Toronto Sun

If scrimmage No. 1 was the Serge Ibaka show, scrimmage No. 2 was the OG Anunoby reveal. Read More

Anunoby looks like a new man on offence in Raptors’ win over Portland — Toronto Sun


Anunoby looks like a new man on offence in Raptors’ win over Portland

Mike GanterMore from Mike Ganter

Published:July 26, 2020

Updated:July 26, 2020 10:01 PM EDT

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If scrimmage No. 1 was the Serge Ibaka show, scrimmage No. 2 was the OG Anunoby reveal.

Anunoby is Toronto’s lockdown defender, that goes without saying. But coach Nick Nurse has long been touting Anunoby’s all-around game or at least the potential for more of an all-around game.

In the past, Anunoby lacked the kind of flow and smoothness many of his NBA counterparts just seem to have instinctively when they have the ball on offence

Now, Anunoby does not say too much to the media as a general rule and when he does speak it is almost strictly in generalities, but based on last night’s performance he has put in a ton on work on his ball handling and dribbling abilities since we last saw him live and that was easily the most important takeaway from last night’s 110-104 win over Portland.

Anunoby looked like a different player at the offensive end confidently putting the ball on the deck and dribble-driving past the Portland Trail Blazers defenders on numerous occasions in the Raptors’ 110-104 win.

His stat line paled in comparison to the 19 points and six rebounds from the aforementioned Ibaka or even the 18 points and six rebounds from Pascal Siakam.

On paper Anunoby’s night was a solid seven points, six boards, four assist evening along with two blocks.

But it was the confidence and ease with which he drove into traffic and found the open man that really made his night stand out.

“I thought he looked good,” Nurse said of Anunoby. “I thought I really liked this aggressiveness and thought his quickness and skill work on some of those drives both at the start and at the end, looked really good.”

If Anunoby can attack off the dribble like he did Sunday night it just makes the entire Raptors offence that much more dangerous.

“He’s a pretty good catch-and-shoot guy we want to make him a guy that can really make teams pay for having to send help to some of our other guys and eventually I (would) just like him to be a bigger part of the offence and just a tough matchup to guard with his shooting, his size, his driving, and his posting. Just more actions and more things you can do.”

TOUGHER THE BETTER

Were these games that actually count, news that an elite talent like Damian Lillard not playing against them might have the Raptors doing a little celebratory dance.

But when you are testing yourself and getting yourself tuned up for when those games do count, you want the toughest opponent possible.

So it’s unlikely there was anything but disappointment when word spread pre-game that Lillard would not be playing. Lillard was held out with left foot inflammation after X-rays came back negative. Head coach Terry Stotts said he did not think the injury was long-term and was hopeful Lillard would be back for the Trail Blazers final scrimmage.

EARLY SCARE

Fred VanVleet signalling to the bench immediately after knee on knee contact with Anfernee Simmons had to have every Raptors fan either cursing at their television screens or at the very least reaching for the worry beads.

The collision occurred with 2:43 left in the first quarter and that was the last run VanVleet would see for the evening.

Nurse said after the game he didn’t think it was anything to be overly concerned about.

“He knocked knees and I don’t think it was too bad, but it’s just a scrimmage, there’s no sense in trying to play him through that in this deal,” Nurse said.

VanVleet could be seen on the telecast on the bench after the scare cheering on his team and smiling with his teammates. Not exactly the behaviour anyone would expect were the injury considered serious.

GASOL BACK AT IT

Chiselled Marc Gasol made his re-start debut last night playing just under 10 minutes. He did not play at all in the second half as the Raptors are monitoring his minutes given the injury issues before the season shut down in March.

Skinnier Gasol seems a little more likely to attack the rim and he did that on at least one occasion going right at Josef Nurkic and drawing a foul in the process.

But it’s clear Gasol has a little more ability in that area than he may have had before when he was carrying more weight.

It just adds to an already impressive resume and just makes the Raptors that much better.

Gasol sounded like a kid on Christmas morning after the game.

“I know it might have been a scrimmage but I was geeked up the whole day,” Gasol said. “Excited about it, and happy that I got to help the team.”

If there was a downside to the evening it was that he only got to play those 10 minutes, but Gasol wasn’t too upset.

“Yeah, you always wanna play more but you know that you gotta build it up,” he said. “We know when the important times come and when the big games come, you have to be ready to take those bigger minutes. So we’ve gotta build it up a little bit, and that’s OK.”

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