Siakam leads as Raptors fend off Bulls 104-98; VanVleet has nine assists in return

TORONTO — Pascal Siakam scored 20 and pulled down eight rebounds as the Toronto Raptors held off the Chicago Bulls 101-96 on Tuesday.

Point guard Fred VanVleet only had three points but nine assists and six rebounds in his return to the Raptors' (31-32) lineup after missing three games following the birth of his third child.

O.G. Anunoby added 17 points and seven rebounds for Toronto, while Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points and Jakob Poeltl scored 14.

Nikola Vucevic's 23 points led Chicago (28-34), which had its two-game win streak end. Zach LaVine added 17.

Former Raptors star DeMar DeRozan had 13 points.

Toronto head coach Nick Nurse said that the Raptors were OK without VanVleet in two of the three games, but his absence was clearly felt in a 118-93 loss in Cleveland on Sunday.

"I thought we got the ball where it needed to go on offence and executed pretty well while missing a key offensive creator," said Nurse. "Probably could have used him at the defensive end against some really fast guards."

Trent drilled a 26-foot three-pointer with 43 seconds left in the first to give Toronto a 24-23 lead at the end of the quarter. The Raptors led by as much as seven points but an 11-2 Chicago run closed that gap.

The Bulls were dominant in the second, with a 10-0 run helping them build a six-point lead with 2:05 left in the quarter. But a Poeltl layup and two made free throws by Siakam to close out the frame cut Chicago's lead to 46-44.

Trent drilled his third three-pointer of the game with 3:19 left in the third to make it 65-64 Toronto. It was the Raptors first lead in 12:46 of play, stretching back to late in the second quarter.

The teams exchanged leads for the rest of the quarter, with LaVine's three-pointer giving Chicago a 72-70 advantage heading into the fourth.

That back and forth continued into the final frame.

A 7-0 Toronto run jump-started by Thaddeus Young's 10-foot field goal with 8:18 left to play started to separate the two teams.

Trent's fifth three-pointer of the night brought the sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd of 19,800 to their feet and made it 91-84 with 6:35 to go. A two-handed dunk by Anunoby on the next possession brought the Raptors' bench to its feet.

VanVleet's three-point attempt bounced off the rim but Siakam rose up for a tip-in to make it 98-91 and force a Bulls timeout with 3:27 left in the game.

Vucevic and LaVine responded with back-to-back field goals for Chicago, but a Siakam free throw kept it a two-possession game.

After Vucevic missed a three-pointer, Toronto continued to kill the clock. A pair of offensive rebounds extended the Raptors possession and ate up nearly a minute of play.

DeRozan made one of two free throws to cut that lead but Trent drained both of his at the other end of the floor with 15 seconds to play.

Anunoby followed that with a free throw of his own and Scottie Barnes had a rousing dunk to give Toronto 104 points before Patrick Beverley made a field goal with 0.1 seconds to play for the game's final score.

ADDED DEPTH — Veteran Will Barton was signed by Toronto on Tuesday, with the Raptors waiving forward Juancho Hernangomez to make space on their roster. The 32-year-old Barton has 12 years of NBA experience, having played for the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards.

UP NEXT — The Raptors visit the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

Chicago travels to Detroit on Wednesday to face the Pistons.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press