When the Bulls and Raptors last met six months ago, Toronto players shook the cobwebs from their heads and wondered what had happened.
Like a boxer who had been high on the scoreboard only to end up amazingly knocked out and flat on his back, the Raptors blew a 19-point lead and were knocked out of a potential playoff spot by the Bulls.
Different versions of the two teams met again Tuesday night, this time in the Windy City, but the stakes were far lower. This was just preparation for the real games starting next week, and this time the Raptors pulled out a wild 106-102 victory.
Two days after facing lesser competition, the Cairns Taipans of Australia, the Raptors faced a Bulls team that was almost at full strength (DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic were all in the lineup after losing the game). missed Sunday’s game despite Alex Caruso being out). . Chicago’s top trio played well and combined for 60 points, but both teams had to go to the bench late, something that wouldn’t happen in a normal game.
Earlier, a Toronto team shorthanded at the front and missing Jakob Poeltl, Precious Achiuwa and Christian Koloko had excellent performances from Gary Trent and Scottie Barnes and good work from Pascal Siakam and Dennis Schroeder, but trailed by a point after three quarters .
Barnes, who along with Siakam tied for the team lead with 22 points, was all over the place on both ends of the court and Trent was a revelation for the Raptors. Trent once again came off the bench, a role that seems most likely for the explosive scorer, and led the Raptors in both points and assists in the first half. The four assists were notable as that was his season high for a complete game in assists a year ago and he has only played a handful of games with more appearances as a Raptor.
The entire team is trying to move the ball more under Darko Rajakovic and Trent, who has proven to be an unrepentant shooter throughout his career, seems to be fully committed to it.
“We moved around a bit more. “The ball goes back and forth,” Trent told reporters in Toronto the day before the game. “So it’s not just dribbling, looking, looking, looking and throwing. Everyone gets a feel for it. Everyone touches it to eventually get it there. So it’s just different.”
Trent had said that while everyone wants to start, his priority is to help the Raptors win games by contributing in any way he can.
That was music to Rajakovic’s ears.
“Oh, Gary. I’m thrilled with Gary. Firstly, his work habits are second to none,” Rajakovic had said. “He brings a high level of energy and focus every day…You just have to be ready to go out there and be a professional, and everything I’ve seen from Gary so far is that guy. “He’s a professional.”
Trent didn’t score or get another assist in the second half, but he made his point clear.
Toronto wraps up its preseason on Friday at home against the Washington Wizards.