Raptors rested heading into Utah

NBA Basketball

While the Utah Jazz got a bit of their groove back during a commanding win over the Philadelphia 76ers late Tuesday night, the Toronto Raptors had the night off.

They also had a rest day Wednesday.

Although the circumstances aren’t ideal Thursday night — squaring off in Salt Lake City — the Raptors are hopeful that a couple of days off will help them resume the level of play they had while winning five straight games a couple of weeks ago.

Toronto enters this matchup vs. Utah having lost two straight and five of six.

“I still feel like we’ve got a lot of room to grow,” Raptors center Khem Birch said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys who are still developing. We’ve just got to be patient and it’s gonna come soon.”

Toronto put itself in a good position to bounce back in its last game in Portland on Monday night.

The Raptors jumped ahead by 14 points. Unfortunately for Toronto, it was unable to maintain that advantage and ended up losing to the Blazers, 118-113, despite the fact that each starter scored at least 16 points.

The return of Fred VanVleet was one piece of good news for Toronto. He had missed the previous game, a home loss to Detroit, with groin soreness. Center Precious Achiuwa, however, missed his second consecutive outing due to right shoulder tendinitis.

Utah had been mired in a similar slump as Toronto, with losses in two straight and four of five before hosting a Sixers team missing Joel Embiid (COVID-19).

The Jazz surged to an easy win after outscoring the Sixers 77-38 in the second and third quarters.

“Everything starts with our defense and today we controlled the boards and that made it easy to get things going offensively,” Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic said after leading the team with 27 points.

“We had more focus and we were aggressive,” he added. “The last couple games, we have been kind of stagnant and we couldn’t hit any shots but this time everything started with our defense.”

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert sparked that defensive effort, blocking four shots in the first half. He also hauled in 17 rebounds and scored 15 points.

The Jazz were in desperate need of a big outing like that after losing their first two home games of the season earlier in the week — 111-100 vs. Indiana and 111-105 to Miami.

This is the second stop in a six-game road trip for Toronto, while Utah wraps up a five-game homestand.

It’s possible the Jazz will see veteran Rudy Gay for the first time this season after signing him this summer. Gay started practicing with the team earlier this week and is eager to get on the court after undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs from his right heel during the offseason.

Toronto might be without leading scorer OG Anunoby, who banged his hip at practice and is listed as questionable against Utah, according to the Toronto Star.

–Field Level Media

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