Trent helps Raptors shoot the lights out vs. Heat

TORONTO – Gary Trent Jr. wasn’t going to miss his opportunity — or many baskets — as emotions ran high in the Toronto Raptors locker room.

Trent had a season-high 28 points, combined with a season-best eight three-pointers, as Toronto stunned the Miami Heat 121-97 on Wednesday, hours after the Raptors traded all-star forward Pascal Siakam. Trent has spent most of the season coming off Toronto’s bench but was put into the starting lineup with Siakam gone.

“At the end of the day, we are professionals and we understand the league we are playing in and what comes with it and how it goes,” said Trent, who helped the Raptors shoot a season-high 20 three-pointers. “Obviously, a change like that is big.

“You build relationships with guys over the years of playing with them and going into battles and seeing them at their highest points and their lowest points.”

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Immanuel Quickley almost had a triple-double with 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as Toronto (16-25) snapped a four-game skid. RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., scored 26 points and added eight rebounds.

Siakam was not in the Raptors’ lineup as he was traded to the Indiana Pacers before the game, pending league approval.

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Neither Toronto nor Indiana had confirmed the deal by opening tipoff, but Siakam’s locker was empty and his name plate above it removed before the game. His jersey was also no longer available at Scotiabank Arena’s store.

The trade was made official about an hour after the game ended. Trent said his emotions didn’t carry over on to the court, but that he wanted to make the most of a rare start.

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“Any opportunity I get out there, just try to showcase how much I can help, what I can do for his team,” said Trent. “I was just given a certain opportunity today, teammates were finding me and kept knocking them down.”

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A moment of silence was held before the game to honour Dejan Milojević. The Golden State Warriors assistant coach died of a heart attack at the age of 46 on Wednesday.

Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said that Milojević, a fellow Serb, was a role model on and off the court. He said his friend’s death and Siakam’s sudden departure had inspired his pre-game speech to the Raptors.

“I told all my guys that I loved them,” said Rajakovic, taking a moment to compose himself. “Opening play in the game was an (after timeout) that Milojević, my friend, I learned that play from him.

“That was our opening play tonight and we were able to score on that one. I dedicated this team win to our team and to Deki.”

Tyler Herro had 16 points and seven assists as Miami (24-17) saw its three-game win streak end. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo also had 16 points apiece.

The Raptors had a season-worst 12.5 per cent three-point performance in a 105-96 loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday, going 4 for 32 from beyond the arc. But Toronto came out firing against Miami drilling 7 of 10 three-point attempts in the first quarter alone.

Raptors rookie forward Gradey Dick stole the ball from Herro, spun around a Heat defender, and passed to Barrett for an emphatic breakaway dunk with 10.2 seconds left in the first quarter. The 19,631 fans in attendance went wild after Barrett’s jam gave Toronto a 41-18 lead.

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The barrage continued in the second, with the Raptors hitting another seven three-pointers for a 78-43 lead heading into intermission. Barrett and Trent had 17 and 16 points respectively by halftime.

Toronto’s shooting cooled off considerably in the third, going 6 for 22 in the quarter, including 2 for 8 on three-pointers. That allowed Miami, led by Herro’s nine points in the period, to narrow the Raptors’ lead slightly to 94-73.

Miami opened the fourth with a 12-3 run to keep reeling in the hosts and narrow Toronto’s lead to 14. Scottie Barnes hit a 15-foot jumper and Raptors reserve guard Dennis Schroder drained a three-pointer to slow the Heat’s momentum.

UP NEXT — Toronto hosts the Chicago Bulls (19-23) on Thursday night.

The Heat travel back to Miami where they will welcome the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2024.

&copy 2024 The Canadian Press

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