Tuesday, February 20, 2024
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NBA Preview: Chicago Bulls (19-23) at Toronto Raptors (16-25)

The Toronto Raptors will shoot for their second straight victory since trading All-Star Pascal Siakam when they host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

Siakam was dealt to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday before the Raptors dominated the visiting Miami Heat 121-97.

In the deal, the Raptors received three first-round picks as well as Bruce Brown and Jordan Nwora. The New Orleans Pelicans also were involved in the trade, sending guard Kira Lewis Jr. to Toronto.

Center Christian Koloko, who has missed all of the season with a respiratory issue, was waived by Toronto in a corresponding move.

Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said before the Miami game, “All of us, we are grown men, we signed up for this job, and we understand what this job brings. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have emotions. … Everybody’s going to process it differently.

The Raptors responded brilliantly, leading the Heat by as many as 37 points on their way to a wire-to-wire win that snapped a four-game losing streak.

Gary Trent Jr. had 28 points, sinking eight 3-pointers, and RJ Barrett put up 26 points for the Raptors. Barnes added 20 points and eight assists.

Toronto shot 51.1 percent (45-for-88) from the field and 52.6 percent (20-for-38) from 3-point range.

The Bulls have not played since taking a 109-91 road loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, just their second defeat in six games.

Nikola Vucevic, who amassed 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists at Cleveland, has been a positive force for the Bulls. Passing has become a bigger part of his game lately, sometimes making the pass that sets up others to get assists.

Vucevic is averaging 16.8 points and 10.4 points, making him one of just 13 NBA players in double figures in both categories. He is also contributing 3.4 assists per contest.

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