The NBA’s In-Season tournament ended for the Raptors even before they took the court in Friday night’s 121-108 win over the visiting Chicago Bulls.
The Raptors were officially eliminated from the league’s latest marketing innovation Friday afternoon when the Orlando Magic soundly defeated Boston.
The visiting Bulls didn’t earn their walking papers from the same tournament until the Raptors had their way with Chicago later in the evening.
The Raptors changed things up in this one, getting off to a hot start rather than backing into the game as they have done far too often already in this young season.
Gary Trent Jr. was a big reason the Raptors took a 14-point lead into the second quarter and the same margin into the second half.
Trent Jr., who recently returned from some plantar fasciitis issues with his foot, and has been slowly finding his shooting form, gave notice early on that his form was all the way back by making three of his six three’s in the half and going five-of-eight from the field for 13 big points off the bench in just 11 minutes.
Zach LaVine was riding his own heater with 18 points in that first half, but unlike Trent Jr. didn’t have a lot of company on the scoring front. LaVine wound up with a game-high 36 while Trent Jr. finished with 16. DeMar DeRozan, who usually gives his old team trouble, was held in check by OG Anunoby and finished with just 19 points.
Trent Jr. was one of three Raptors already into double figures at the half.
By game’s end, all five starters and Trent were in the double-figures department.
This marked the 12th consecutive game the Raptors have assisted on 25 or more baskets, which established a franchise record. Toronto now sits fourth in the league in assists per game averaging 28.6.
For the night Toronto assisted on 32 of 44 made baskets.
The Raptors are a little less than a month removed from a game in which the Bulls rallied back from 19 points down in the fourth quarter to steal a win in Chicago.
There was little chance of that happening again with head coach Darko Rajakovic keeping his foot on the gas with starters and front-end bench players only for the fourth.
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Chicago did get the Toronto lead that was as big as 20 points at one point all the way down to seven with about five minutes to go in the game, but a Raptors timeout brought that run to an end with Anunoby connecting on his fourth three-pointer of the game (he would get one more finishing with five), allowing the Raptors’ faithful to breathe a little easier.
Anunoby would finish with a team-high 26 points.