Barnes leads Raptors but sprains foot

TORONTO – New Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic got to see Toronto’s rotation for about three whole quarters.

Scottie Barnes had 23 points and six rebounds but left the game early with a sprained right foot as the Raptors routed the Washington Wizards 134-98 on Friday in pre-season play. Barnes’s departure ended Rajakovic’s brief look at his full rotation as centre Jakob Poeltl as well as forwards Precious Achiuwa and Otto Porter Jr. returned from illness and injury.

“My goal was to try to play one game, at least,” said Achiuwa, who had nine points and six rebounds in over 17 minutes of play. He had missed the Raptors’ three other exhibition games after he strained his groin in training camp. “Understanding the system is different when you just practice it than when you play against actual competition.

“It was very important for me to be out there today and compete side by side with those guys.”

Story continues below advertisement

Poeltl returned from an undisclosed illness that sidelined him all week. He finished with eight points and nine rebounds over 18 minutes of play.

“I was glad we had a little bit of a minute restriction,” chuckled Poeltl. “I think if I was out there for like eight or 10 minutes at a time it would have been a little bit more difficult but actually I felt really good.”

Porter had been out nearly a year after he had surgery on his left foot to repair a dislocated toe. He had four points and four rebounds in 10 minutes of play off the bench.

“He’s just ramping up,” said Rajakovic of Porter before the game. “We’ve got to be smart and we need to be, I don’t want to say cautious, but we’ve got to be careful how we are using him, how much, and being aware of the long-term effects for him and for the team.”

Story continues below advertisement

Pascal Siakam added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors (4-0), while O.G. Anunoby had 15 points. Toronto finished the pre-season with a perfect record and will host the Minnesota Timberwolves at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday in its home opener.

Rajakovic said it meant nothing that the Raptors went 4-0 in exhibition play.

“What matters is our preparation for the regular season and for Wednesday, when it’s going to start,” he said. “It’s (like) asking me what it meant to be 1-4 in Summer League. It was us learning, it was us getting better, getting that approach.

“The regular season starts now, our main thing starts now.”

Deni Avdija had 18 points and seven rebounds for Washington (3-1). Eugene Omoruyi added 16 off the bench.

Although the Wizards started the game with a 7-0 run and led by as many as nine points, Siakam pulled down an offensive rebound and jumped back up for a layup to tie it 16-16 with 3:39 left in the quarter. Another Siakam layup on the next possession gave Toronto its first lead of the game.

Barnes hit a jump shot and Chris Boucher sank two free throws to give the Raptors a 31-24 lead after one quarter.

Avdija made a three-pointer with 5:50 left in the second to help Washington take a 44-43 lead. It didn’t last long though, as Toronto responded with an 11-0 run. Avdija hit his third three-pointer of the night in the final minute of the half but the Raptors still held a 58-52 lead at intermission.

Story continues below advertisement

Jalen McDaniels made a 21-foot jump shot with 2:41 left in the third to give the Raptors a 23-point lead. Although Barnes rushed off the court with 1:49 left in the third because of his injury, Toronto was still flying high with a 101-74 lead with one quarter left.

Even without Barnes, the Raptors were dominant in the fourth. Rookie forward Gradey Dick nailed a 26-foot three-pointer early in the quarter to the delight of the 18,426 in attendance at Scotiabank Arena.

Javon Freeman-Liberty had a putback layup almost two minutes later to give Toronto a sizable 40-point lead with 6:53 left.

ROSTER FINALIZED — Justise Winslow, a former 10th overall pick, was signed by the Raptors on Friday. The team waived Makur Maker in a corresponding move. The 27-year-old Winslow was selected by the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. He was waived after the game along with fellow forward Mouhamadou Gueye and guard Jeff Dowtin Jr. Those moves lowered Toronto’s roster to the league maximum of 15 players.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2023.


Sponsored content