Leonard missing again for Raptors, but Toronto still win 124-101
Serge Ibaka had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Fred VanVleet also scored 23 and the Toronto Raptors routed the Chicago Bulls 124-101 on Saturday night despite playing without Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam.
Marc Gasol had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists as Toronto won its third straight.
Leonard was excused for personal reasons and didn’t make the trip to Chicago. He leads the Raptors in scoring at 27 points and has played in 55 of the team’s 77 games this season. Siakam, who averages 17 points, was healthy and in uniform on the bench, but was held out to rest. The third-year forward had 31 points Thursday in a win over the New York Knicks.
Walt Lemon Jr., in his first game with the team, led the short-handed Bulls with 19 points.
Chicago, which has dropped four straight, was playing without all five of its usual starters. In addition to rookie Wendell Carter Jr., who is out for the season following left thumb surgery in January, Kris Dunn (mid-back strain), Lauri Markkanen (medical assessment), Zach LaVine (right thigh contusion) and Otto Porter Jr. (right shoulder strain) were sidelined. Rookie Chandler Hutchison (right toe) also was out.
VanVleet had 15 first-half points as the Raptors took a 67-56 halftime lead. Toronto scored 41 points in the second quarter on 18-for-24 shooting.
Green and Gasol each had eight points in the third quarter as the Raptors stretched the lead to 93-75 entering the fourth quarter.
“When a great player and really important player sit out, somebody else has to pick up those shots, the defensive intensity,” Gasol said. “We’re all NBA players and we all work together, obviously.”
The Bulls never got closer than 15 points in the fourth.
G Patrick McCaw likely will miss approximately three weeks with a sprained right thumb. He was injured during the first half of Thursday’s game at New York. “Possible cartilage issues, so they’re going to take him to a specialist when we get back tomorrow,” coach Nick Nurse said.
Lemon was signed Friday to fill some of the void created by the rash of injuries. Lemon, a Chicago native, averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 assists in 33 games with the Windy City Bulls, the team’s G League affiliate.
Both Nurse and Chicago coach Jim Boylen are friendly with Fred Hoiberg and had some thoughts on the former Bulls coach taking the Nebraska job.
Nurse was surprised, saying: “I didn’t know that he’d go right back into it right away. I thought maybe there’d be one of the real premier jobs or something that he would take.”
“It was a good opportunity to get Serge back in the starting lineup and he responded well,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said.
Boylen, though, believes Nebraska is a good match for Hoiberg. “He’s a good recruiter, he’s proven that,” Boylen said. “They need a great recruiter there. From what I hear, they have all the facilities, all the trimmings for that program to take off. He can do it. He will do it.”
Raptors host Orlando on Monday night.