VanVleet, Raptors seek end to 9-game losing streak


TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 16: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors passes during a game against the Charlotte Hornets at Amalie Arena on January 16, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Fred VanVleet is most likely on the longest losing streak of his basketball life. The Toronto Raptors have dropped their last nine games. This week has been particularly rough with the Raptors losing to the struggling Cavaliers on Sunday and the struggling Rockets on Monday.

The Rockets had been on a 20 game losing streak before defeating the Raptors 117-99. The Raptors’ record has dipped nine games below .500 at 17-26 and the Raptors have fallen into the 11th spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

VanVleet is trying not to push the panic button. “Just trying not to overreact,” VanVleet told reporters Monday night. “Obviously nine in a row is not acceptable, but you can’t start picking on every scab you’ve got.” “I’m not too upset. I like our spirit. I like our togetherness.”

What VanVleet doesn’t like is the Raptors’ play on defense.

“For whatever reason the defense is just not what it needs to be. That’s what it feels like right now…it definitely needs to be a big change or improvment to our defensive focus.”

The Raptors also have trade speculation hanging over their heads with the NBA trade deadline coming up Thursday. Kyle Lowry and Norm Powell’s names have come up a lot in trade speculation. VanVleet was asked if the trade talk seeps into the lockerroom and affects the team.

“I’m not sure if that’s the thought process. It might be more of an individualized thing. I’m sure those guys are seeing their names in a lot of rumors and stuff like that. I haven’t dealt with that as much in my career, but I have been in some discussions since I’ve been in the NBA so I get it. I think we’ve been handling that part of it well.”

VanVleet has rebounded well from his two-plus week absence while dealing with COVID-19. He scored 27 points Monday night and 23 points on Sunday. He’s endured three games in four nights while playing more than 40 minutes per game.

“It’s just who I am. I’m going to go out there and lay it all out there and win, lose or draw…I didn’t shoot the ball well in Cleveland, but I’m going to leave my heart on the floor every time I step out there. It’s not always pretty, but I’m trying to help this team win.”

“My body is what it is. I take my rest and my treatment and get ready for another one (game). The games aren’t going to stop coming.”

The next one will be Wednesday night when the Raptors host the Nuggets.

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