The shorthanded Toronto Raptors' losing streak continues, suffering a 118-95 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.
Toronto falls to 17-22 on the season, while the Bulls snap a two-game skid to improve to 17-20, sitting one place ahead of the Raptors in the Eastern Conference standings.
Here are some takeaways from the buzzer…
1. Help is on the way!
Toronto was again without several key players due to the league's health and safety protocols, missing OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, Patrick McCaw, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
The good news, however, ahead of their next game in Detroit, they'll be stopping by Tampa to pick up some help with a 'couple' of players nearing their return, according to head coach Nick Nurse.
"I would say later in the week we should have them all back," Nurse said Sunday. "I don't know in what capacity yet. I mean, 1-on-0 is still a ways away from being cleared, but it's kind of staggering. I think a couple guys were cleared yesterday. I think one or two more get cleared tomorrow and then one more after that and then there's still some time that needs to elapse from there."
2 . Another slow start for Toronto
Just one night after the Hornets took a 44-24 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Raptors again struggled out of the gate against the Bulls.
While they only trailed 28-22, thanks to the Bulls' poor shooting from beyond the arc, the Raptors' execution looked like a team on the second night of a back-to-back, connecting on just 6-of-25 from the field and 4-of-10 from deep.
The Bulls took the lead late in the opening quarter and held it the rest of the way, with the Raptors now 1-7 this season in the second game of back-to-backs.
3. Powell shining is leading man
In the absence of Siakam and VanVleet, a large chunk of the Raptors' offensive responsibilities have been thrust on Powell's shoulders, but he continues to prove up to the job, with another impressive performance in Chicago.
After a 13-point performance against the Hornets, Powell bounced back with 32 points, five assists and four rebounds on 13-of-22 shooting from the field and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc.
Anyone got a map? pic.twitter.com/wqbumENLVN- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 15, 2021
Over his past six games, playing 35.2 minutes per game, Powell is averaging 28.2 points, shooting 54.6 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the 3-point line on 9.2 attempts.
4. A frustrating night for Kyle Lowry
Outside of Powell and Chris Boucher's late surge, the Raptors struggled to find offensive production, but it was Kyle Lowry who did his best to keep his squad in the game.
When the Bulls looked like running away with it in the second quarter, Lowry was there. He did the same in the third, hitting big shots, grabbing rebounds and finding his teammates, but they just couldn't crack into the Bulls' lead.
KLow on a mission tonight pic.twitter.com/znCBbDmq22- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 15, 2021
It was a frustrating end to the night for Lowry, who was ejected with 2:39 remaining in the fourth after receiving his second technical foul for throwing the ball at the official.
5. A career night for rookie Patrick Williams
The Raptors kept All-Star guard Zach LaVine quiet with just 15 points on the night, but they had no answer for the energy of rookie Patrick Williams, who enjoyed his most productive game of the season.
The 19-year-old finished with a career-high 23 points, six rebounds and four assists on 9-of-14 shooting from the field.
Patrick Williams' career-high powers the @chicagobulls! #BullsNation #NBARooks@patricklw4: 23 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST pic.twitter.com/jXZO81k4JC- NBA (@NBA) March 15, 2021
Williams gave the Raptors headaches with his constant off-ball movement, finding gaps in their defence to exploit with his high-energy performance.
He wasn't alone, as nine Bulls players finished in double figures on the night.
"You can look at that boxscore and it tells the story," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said post-game. "They've got nine guys in double figures and I think our fourth scorer has six."
6. Boucher continues to impress
With the Raptors missing several key players, Chris Boucher stepped up, leading a mini-comeback in the fourth quarter, scoring nine points in the final frame on 4-of-6 shooting.
He finished with 17 on the night, on 7-of-12 shooting in just 26 minutes.
On a night where buckets were hard to come by, his energy and hustle down the stretch were a welcome addition for the Raps.
7. What's next?
The Raptors will return to Tampa for two days off before heading to Detroit where they will take on the Pistons on Wednesday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
We'll catch you then.
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