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Anunoby powers Raptors past Bulls 121-108 to eliminate Chicago from in-season tourney

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors played the kind of team-first basketball they want to make their brand. Unfortunately, it came hours after they had been eliminated from the NBA's in-season tournament.
Toronto Raptors' Pascal Siakam (43) drives past Chicago Bulls' Patrick Williams (44) during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Friday, November 24, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors played the kind of team-first basketball they want to make their brand. Unfortunately, it came hours after they had been eliminated from the NBA's in-season tournament.

Scottie Barnes had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds as Toronto beat Chicago 121-108 on Friday to also eliminate the Bulls from the tourney. The Raptors finished with 32 team assists to set a franchise record with over 25 assists in each of their last 12 games.

Toronto's previous high was a 10-game streak set Jan. 8-28, 2020.

"It just shows our focus out there on the floor," said Barnes, who had six of the Raptors' assists. "I feel like we get some good offence that way. 

"Sometimes we get stagnant but we keep trying to get back to it."

Toronto was eliminated from the tourney earlier Friday when the Orlando Magic beat the Boston Celtics 113-96 to improve to 3-1. The Raptors are 1-2 in group play and will have their final in-season tournament game on Tuesday in Brooklyn against the Nets.

OG Anunoby led Toronto (8-8) with 26 points and pulled down six rebounds. Pascal Siakam added 18 points with a team-best eight assists.

"We were hoping to get 60 assists but we fell off after that start," joked Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic. "We are always trying to have 30-plus assists and try to always get more than 32 deflections and tonight we hit both. 

"We had 33 deflections and 32 assists. I thought we played together."

Zach LaVine had 36 points as Chicago (5-12) dropped to 0-3 in the tourney. Former Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan had 19 points.

The Bulls have lost three straight and seven of their past 10.

"We’ve just got to figure it out, man. It’s frustrating. We all hate losing," said DeRozan. "We hate being in the position we’re in, digging ourselves a hole. 

"Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We’ve got to figure it out."

Gary Trent Jr. made a 23-foot step back jumpshot to give Toronto a 36-22 lead after one quarter. He came off the bench to lead all scorers in the first with 10 points in just under seven minutes of play. He finished with 16 points.

Dennis Schroder hit two free throws for the final points of the half as the Raptors maintained their 14-point lead over Chicago, heading to intermission with a 62-48 advantage.

DeRozan had a layup to pull the Bulls to within 10 a little over two minutes into the third, forcing Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic to call timeout. 

Toronto came out swinging after the timeout, with Scottie Barnes finishing off an alley oop from Jakob Poeltl before Anunoby drained a three-pointer and a quick jumper for a seven-point lead.

The Raptors would lead by as much as 20 points in the quarter, with Pascal Siakam hitting a buzzer beater to make it 93-77 as the period expired. Siakam slid backwards on the floor as the shot went in, drawing a rousing cheer from the sold-out crowd of 19,800.

Patrick Williams's slam dunk with 5:24 left to play capped off a 10-0 Chicago run, cutting Toronto's lead to just seven points. Rajakovic called a full timeout in response to the Bulls' sudden surge.

Anunoby drilled a three-pointer to break up Chicago's run and, with all of the Raptors' starters back on the court, they started to pull away again.

DICK DEMOTED — Rookie forward Gradey Dick was assigned to the Raptors 905 of the G-League after the game. The 905 host the Capital City Go-Go in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday.

GOLD AND BLACK — The Raptors wore gold and black jerseys to match the black, gold, grey and white court installed at Scotiabank Arena specifically for the in-season tournament games.

UP NEXT — The Raptors travel to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Sunday.

Chicago continues its road trip with a stop in Brooklyn on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press