In Toronto, emotions were running high in the Raptors’ locker room, but Gary Trent Jr. seized the opportunity and showcased his scoring prowess. Trent delivered a season-high performance with 28 points, including a season-best eight three-pointers, leading the Raptors to a surprising 121-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday. The win came on the same day the Raptors traded all-star forward Pascal Siakam.
Despite spending most of the season coming off the bench, Trent was inserted into the starting lineup in the absence of Siakam and made a significant impact. Reflecting on the changes, Trent emphasized the professionalism of the players in understanding the dynamics of the league and the inevitable shifts that come with it.
“At the end of the day, we are professionals and we understand the league we are playing in and what comes with it and how it goes,” said Trent. “Obviously, a change like that is big. You build relationships with guys over the years of playing with them and going into battles and seeing them at their highest points and their lowest points.”
Immanuel Quickley contributed significantly, almost securing a triple-double with 17 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds, as the Raptors (16-25) halted a four-game losing streak. RJ Barrett, hailing from Mississauga, Ontario, added 26 points and eight rebounds to the impressive performance.
Siakam was notably absent from the Raptors’ lineup as he had been traded to the Indiana Pacers, pending league approval. Although neither Toronto nor Indiana had officially confirmed the deal by tipoff, Siakam’s absence was evident, with his locker empty, nameplate removed, and jersey unavailable at Scotiabank Arena’s store.
The trade’s official confirmation came approximately an hour after the game concluded. Gary Trent Jr. emphasized that his emotions about the trade did not carry over onto the court, but he was determined to make the most of the rare opportunity to start.
“Any opportunity I get out there, just try to showcase how much I can help, what I can do for this team,” Trent stated. “I was just given a certain opportunity today, teammates were finding me, and kept knocking them down.”
Before the game, a moment of silence was observed to honor Dejan Milojević, the Golden State Warriors assistant coach who passed away from a heart attack at the age of 46 on Wednesday. Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic, a fellow Serb, described Milojević as a role model both on and off the court. Rajakovic dedicated the team’s win to Milojević, incorporating a play he learned from his friend as the opening play of the game.
Tyler Herro contributed 16 points and seven assists for Miami (24-17), ending their three-game win streak. Both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo also had 16 points each.
In contrast to their poor three-point performance in the previous game against the Boston Celtics, where they shot 12.5 percent, the Raptors showcased an impressive display against Miami. They drilled 7 of 10 three-point attempts in the first quarter alone.
The barrage continued in the second quarter, with the Raptors hitting another seven three-pointers, resulting in a commanding 78-43 lead at halftime. Scottie Barnes and Dennis Schroder played crucial roles in slowing down the Heat’s momentum during the fourth quarter.