Pushing Forward

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Chris Boucher Returns to the Lineup as Raptors Fall to the Clippers

The Toronto Raptors rolled with youth on Tuesday night.

With Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet all out of the lineup, the Raptors got yet another opportunity to see their next wave of talent take the court, this time against an NBA powerhouse in the Los Angeles Clippers.

The final result wasn’t pretty, but from the Raptors perspective, these were valuable minutes of growth for this young crop of players. A returning Chris Boucher led the way with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Malachi Flynn, Jalen Harris, Freddie Gillespie, and Khem Birch all finished the night in double-figures, albeit in a 115-96 defeat.

“I think tonight we’re playing a whole group of guys; they need to play, and they need to be evaluated and they need to get better, and this is as good a competition as they can get,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “This is far better than any of ’em can get anywhere else. It’s valuable minutes for these guys. We’ve prepared ’em hard. We’ve put very, like, normal-type schemes together because we need to see how they can execute them and all those kinda things. We’re (sic) certainly prepared them to play their best and put their best performances individually out there and then play to win.”

In their first game action since officially being eliminated, the feeling of stepping on the floor was bittersweet, but there was also a sense of pride for what this organization was able to accomplish over the past seven years.

“I mean, listen, it’s certainly not easy to get a seven-year run,” explained Nurse. “…So, I think first the organization, and all of us, should be proud of that. And then on the other hand, it’s disappointing. I thought we played about as well as we could last year [Toronto had the second-best record in the regular season and lost a seven-game series to Boston in the second round] and with a break or two could have kept on rolling who knows how far a year ago.

“And to kinda come back and be where we are today is certainly, it’s very disappointing, and it’s a little sad, to be honest, to have that run. It was a hell of a run. Hopefully it’ll sting a little bit this summer. We’ll feel that sting in the summer workouts, things like that to get ourselves back to where we’re used to being.”

With just three games remaining on the season, the Raptors will take on the Chicago Bulls next on Thursday evening.

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