Trent has first NBA double-double as Raptors win

TORONTO – It was clear from the start of the Toronto Raptors season that Gary Trent Jr. would be the odd man out, moving from the starting rotation to the bench.

But Trent’s learning to feel the rhythm of the game before subbing in and that awareness paid off with his first ever NBA double-double, leading Toronto past the undermanned Charlotte Hornets 114-99 on Monday.

Trent scored a season-high 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Raptors rallied after trailing for the first three quarters of the game.

“I was really just able to get a flow and a rhythm,” said Trent, who has only started twice this season and seen his average minutes played drop from 33 to 24. “Every game, I try to go out there and get comfortable as I can.

“No matter what situation is going on, no matter if I’m playing 35 minutes, 20 minutes, 25 minutes, I’m just trying to contribute to winning.”

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The 24-year-old Trent is in his sixth NBA season and seen his starts drastically reduced after he was on the floor for opening tip-off nine times in 2021-22 and 44 times in 2022-23.

“Feels good,” said Trent. “Put the work in, see it coming to fruition is always a blessing.

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“Its good to keep going, good to keep building.”

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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.

“I’m pretty tall,” said the six-foot-seven Barnes with a smile. “I’ve been put in those positions where I’m guarding fives at times.

“Just being able to box out and try to locate those rebounds.”

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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.

“We definitely could have used him,” said Richards of Bridges. “He brings a great presence to our team in scoring, rebounding, even defending.”

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. The Hornets held on to a lead the next two quarters, with Toronto narrowing it to two points heading to the final period.

Trent made a 21-foot jumper in the first possession of the fourth quarter to tie the game.

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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.

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.

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