Trent Jr. scores 24 points, Barnes has career-high 15 rebounds in Raptors’ win


Published December 10, 2021 at 10:00 pm

TORONTO — Gary Trent Jr., poured in 24 points, including a key three-pointer with just over a minute play, to lift the Toronto Raptors to a 90-87 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday.

Fred VanVleet had 17 points and 11 assists, while rookie Scottie Barnes had a career-high 15 rebounds to go with 12 points for the undermanned Raptors (12-14). Pascal Siakam had 13 points and 12 boards, while Chris Boucher chipped in with 14 points. 

Canadian RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin led the Knicks (12-14) with 19 points apiece. 

Coming off a one-point last-second loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the Raptors amassed a 20 point-lead in the first quarter on Friday and appeared headed for an easy victory. 

But the Knicks — who started the day in 11th in the Eastern Conference, one spot ahead of Toronto — had other plans. The Raptors led 69-65 to start the fourth quarter, but Toppin’s three-pointer tied it up four minutes into the frame to groans from the Scotiabank Arena crowd.

VanVleet brought them to their feet with a three-pointer for a five-point lead with 4:29 to play, then Siakam fed a slashing Barnes for a dunk to make it six points with about three minutes to play. 

Barrett had five points of a 7-0 Knicks run that put the visitors up by a point, but Trent connected from long distance for an 89-87 advantage with 1:11 to play. 

Siakam missed a jumper, Julius Randle missed on his three-point attempt, and then down by three with 0.2 on the clock, Barrett clanged a three-point attempt off the rim.  

The Raptors got off to a hot start, hitting five-three pointers in the first quarter, including one by Trent, that put gave them a 20-point lead. Toronto led 34-14 to start the second.

The Knicks’ bench scored 20 points in the second to fuel a 29-9 New York run, and when Immanuel Quickley drained a three-pointer to tie the game, players on the Knicks bench leapt to their feet in celebration. The Raptors closed the quarter with an 11-3 run punctuated by a Siakam dunk with a half second on the clock, and Toronto went into the halftime break up 50-42.

Barrett had nine points in the third quarter, including five straight that put the Knicks up by a point. 

Barrett, a 21-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., is rounding into form after missing a couple of games earlier this month due to a non-COVID illness that Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said took a toll on the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft. Barrett missed one game and had to leave another after just eight minutes. 

The Raptors continue to battle injuries. OG Anunoby missed his 11th game with a hip injury, while Khem Birch sat for the seventh straight game with knee swelling, and Precious Achiuwa was also sidelined (shoulder tendinitis).

The Raptors also had a COVID-19 scare. The team cancelled practice on Thursday out of an “abundance of caution” after team president and vice-chairman Masai Ujiri tested positive for COVID-19. Ujiri, who is fully vaccinated including a booster shot, said it was later learned that there were positive tests at his Giants of Africa event on Sunday.

“Superfan” Nav Bhatia missed his first Raptors home game, ending a 26-year streak. Bhatia attended Ujiri’s Giants of Africa event, and so is in isolation in accordance with a Toronto Public Health order.   

The Raptors were hit hard by the pandemic last March while playing in Tampa, Fla. Missing numerous key players, they tumbled down the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs. 

The Raptors host the Sacramento Kings on Monday in their final game of a season-long seven-game homestand.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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