By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on December 18, 2023.
TORONTO – Gary Trent Jr. came off the bench for a season-high 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors rallied past the undermanned Charlotte Hornets 114-99 on Monday.
It was Trent’s first career double-double.
Pascal Siakam led all scorers with 27 points and added eight rebounds and eight assists for Toronto (11-15).
Scottie Barnes had a double-double with 22 points and a career-best 17 rebounds.
Terry Rozier scored 22 with seven assists as Charlotte (7-18) dropped its fifth straight game. Nick Richards had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
Hornets forward Miles Bridges was denied entrance to Canada due to his past legal problems and was not available to play in Toronto.
Bridges is currently serving three years of probation after pleading no contest in exchange for no jail time in the June 2022 domestic violence case involving the mother of his two children, who accused Bridges of assaulting her in front of them.
Charlotte was already without three of its regular starters in LaMelo Ball (right ankle), Gordon Hayward (illness) and Mark Williams (back). Centre Nathan Mensah was also unavailable, forcing the Hornets to have two fewer players on their bench than Toronto.
Despite its short bench, Charlotte built a 27-19 lead in the first quarter behind Rozier’s nine points.
Siakam hit an 11-foot jump shot in the final second of the first half to help Toronto trail Charlotte 52-48 heading into intermission. That field goal capped off a 6-0 Raptors run to close out the frame and the four-point deficit was the closest they could get to the Hornets in the second.
Toronto point guard Dennis Schroder drilled a three-pointer with 4:08 left in the third quarter to pull the Raptors to within a point. On Toronto’s next possession, Schroder was fouled as he drove to the net. His two successful free throws gave the Raptors their first lead of the game with 3:24 left in the quarter.
Charlotte, led by Miller’s six points in the third, still finished the quarter with an 81-79 lead.
Trent made a 21-foot jumper in the first possession of the fourth quarter to tie the game.
The two teams stayed neck-and-neck for the next three minutes of play but a 13-4 run, punctuated by a two-handed dunk by Precious Achiuwa, opened up a 95-87 lead for Toronto.
Barnes brought the fans to their feet with a sequence where he grabbed an offensive rebound on OG Anunoby’s missed three, missed a put back jumper, but then got his own rebound for a dunk and a nine-point Raptors lead with 4:16 left to play.
Toronto didn’t look back after that, keeping the Hornets at bay for the rest of the game.
MONTROSS HONOURED – A moment of silence was held before the game to honour former Raptors forward Eric Montross, who died of cancer on Sunday at the age of 52. Montross, who spent two of his eight NBA seasons in Toronto, won an NCAA championship with North Carolina. Montross died surrounded by loved ones at his Chapel Hill home. He had been diagnosed with cancer in March, leading to him stepping away from his duties as a radio analyst for UNC game broadcasts.
COACH CASEY – Former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey received a warm ovation from the 19,288 fans at Scotiabank Arena when he was shown on the venue’s Jumbotron. Casey coached Toronto from 2011-18 and, after a stint as Detroit’s head coach, is now a member of the Pistons’ front office.
UP NEXT – Toronto hosts Jamal Murray of Kitchener, Ont., and the NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
The Hornets continue their road trip with a stop in Indiana on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2023.