TORONTO – On a night without Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet tried hard.
VanVleet had 30 points and 11 assists in his opener after missing three straight games with lower back strain, to lead Toronto to an entertaining 113-104 win over former Raptor DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls Sunday.
OG Anunoby had 22 points, while Scottie Barnes finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto (6-4). Gary Trent added 12 points and Christian Koloko finished with 11 points and six blocks.
DeRozan, who was coming off a 46-point performance Friday at Boston, led the Bulls (5-6) with 20 points, while Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Trailing 13 points in the first half, the Raptors cut the deficit to go up 10 points in the third quarter. But the Bulls seized the momentum, shooting within 83-82 to start the fourth, and opening the quarter with a 7-0 run for a six-point lead.
But VanVleet connected on a pair of straight three-pointers to orchestrate a comeback, and when Anunoby got his hands on a pass from Alex Caruso and sprinted down, rounding DeRozan for a field goal, it put Toronto by six with 3:47 to go and got the Scotiabank Arena crowd to their feet.
Fans barely had time to sit down when VanVleet snatched the ball from DeRozan and tossed it to Anunoby for a wide-open field goal and a nine-point lead with 1:30 remaining.
Siakam is expected to be out for at least two weeks with a strained right adductor muscle, a blow to the team after their blistering start to the season. He had averaged team highs of 24.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists and recorded six double-doubles – including a pair of triple-doubles – in the first nine games before slipping and sinking. groin injury Friday in Dallas.
“It’s definitely a bummer that this is happening,” coach Nick Nurse said. “He was playing very well, and how it goes, on a slip on wet ground, is disappointing. You have to play another game, so what’s going on? We need guys to step up. They’ll have the ability to do more things. They’re going to need it. And here it is, on them. We’ll see what happens.”
The Bulls took an early lead and Javonte Green’s three earned the visitors 11 points late in the first quarter. The Bulls led 30-21 to start the second.
Patrick Williams’ long bombshell widened the gap to 13 early in the second, but VanVleet had three shots from behind the arc as part of Toronto’s 22-13 run to end the half. The Raptors took a 55-49 lead at halftime.
DeRozan became the 50th player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points in Friday’s game against San Antonio.
What stands out about his scoring ability?
“Well, he really can do it. He can really score,” Nurse said. “And I think the mid-range jumper that he has on autopilot would be the first thing that would come to his mind, just seeing those come in, over and over and over and over again.
“He’s the workout clinic video on mid-range jumpers.”
Fans booed former Raptor Goran Dragic every time he touched the ball. The Bulls guard played just five games last fall with the Raptors before leaving the team for personal reasons in November. The Raptors traded him to San Antonio as part of the Feb. 10 deal that brought Thaddeus Young to Toronto.
The Raptors and Bulls meet Monday in Chicago. The Raptors return home to host Houston on Wednesday.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 6, 2022.
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