Sat. May 21st, 2022

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Scottie Barnes has had some great moments already in his rookie year.


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Going toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant and giving as well as he got was one. Playing Jayson Tatum in Boston was another.

But after losing back-to-back and slowing out of the gate, the Raptors needed a pick-me-up, and the rookie delivered Friday in a 109-105 victory over the Washington Wizards.

This game changed as Barnes stepped up against an overmatched rookie in Corey Kispert. Barnes was the first Raptor out of the game five minutes later and the team was double-digit early.

Instead of hanging his head, he was another player when he returned. Far more aggressive, and when he showed he had an advantage over Kispert, his teammates kept feeding him on the post and getting the Raptors back from the early deficit.


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Barnes scored seven in the first quarter, and 10 in the second, which helped turn a 10-point deficit after a quarter into a one-point lead in the half.

Barnes would add 10 more in the third as Toronto began to pull away before facing a late charge from the Wizards in general and Bradley Beal in particular.

“When he stretches out, he’s big out there, and I think he can use that length advantage to his advantage, and tonight he got it some places, or took it to places where he could do it, and he just stayed with it, “the Raptors say. said head coach Nick Nurse. “It was really aggressive, good ball game for him.”

Barnes would end up with a career high of 27 on 12-of-18 shots and chipped in on boards with eight rebounds as well.

The nurse likes what he sees from Barnes, but both he and Barnes know the work is not done.


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“He has a lot of up and down performances that a lot of beginners do,” Nurse said. “Tonight was one of his better, of course, one of his best matches, I think. Shot a pretty high percentage, stayed at it, got the ball where he wanted, was aggressive. So he has to try to build on that.

“I think it’s a process of learning the whole year’s flow,” the nurse said. “Rookies need to do that and get to the point where you can get more consistent every night. It’s two out of four, two out of five (solid) games right now. We want to get it up to two out of four, “Three out of four where you play at a high level. We do not expect that every night, but we want to make sure you play above average three out of four nights and he works towards that.”


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The wizards did not go quietly down into this one.

They tied the game at 102 with 1:10 to go on a Montrezl Harrell running dunk after the Raptors had been up by as many as 18.

When the crowd went crazy, Nurse called a timeout and calmed things down a bit, but it was only when Fred VanVleet knocked down his fourth try of the night on 11 attempts that the Raptors were well again.

The three ended the Washington race 16-3 and were followed by an OG Anunoby rebound and a Barnes miss to close out the match.

Gary Trent Jr. returned to the ranks after missing six games, and his return was huge for the Raptors.

Trent Jr. apparently still found his legs, but he was there with three threes in the game as well as a handful of great defensive stops as his team needed him most, none bigger than a block from behind at Harrell with the Wizards threatening


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The win ends the trip with five games with 2-3, and the team returns home to face Portland on Sunday.


Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has taken a lot of heat the past few games to go with a rotation that hovered around seven players, but was mostly a six-man rotation in a three-game set that saw them win in Milwaukee and then lose close fights in both Miami and Dallas.

Any need to keep the rotation tight was eased Friday night, at least somewhat, with the return of shooting guard Gary Trent Jr., who missed the last six games with swelling in his left ankle.

With Trent Jr. back in the fold, Precious Achiuwa went back to the bench and the Raptors had long awaited small start-5s with Fred VanVleet and Trent Jr. on the backcourt with a similarly sized forehand with Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby up. in front of.


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The nurse also extended the rotation by nine alone in the first half.

Pre-game Nurse was asked about the short rotation he has employed over the last few games.

“It has been good,” said the nurse. “I think we’ve played really, really well. I like the progress we’re making. I like the way things are out there. I looked at the schedule a bit and saw that we had several teams with championship hopes right in. move and I would like to see and give our main players so many reps against it and see what it looked like. “

The nurse went as deep as nine bodies into her bench, but both Yuta Watanabe and Justin Champagnie were both used sparingly, so for all intents and purposes, the nurse was still in the process of rotating seven men.

So it’s still clear that Nurse still wants his bench players to earn their minutes, as Chris Boucher has done, and he used Boucher as an example of a guy like this.

The door is not closed to the others. But if they are to return to the rotation, it will be on profit. And with Khem Birch expected back in a week or so, there will be fewer minutes to earn.



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