Raptors land 1st punch, knock out Bulls in home opener

CJ Miles knocked down six three-pointers as the Toronto Raptors beat the Chicago Bulls 117-101 in their season opener. (Vaughan Ridley/Getty Images)

Toronto (CP,Oct 20,2017): C.J. Miles played the role of both shooter and teacher in his Toronto Raptors debut.

The veteran sharp-shooter had six three-pointers and 22 points, and led a Raptors’ young and energetic second unit that stole the show on opening night, in a 117-100 Raptors’ victory over the depleted Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

“I was really impressed with the young group,” said coach Dwane Casey. “They came in and didn’t look like they were a deer in the headlights. They expanded the lead and didn’t lose it, and really impressed.”

The rebuilding Bulls were down two players after an ugly brawl left Nikola Mirotic with broken bones in his face that will likely require surgery, and a concussion. Teammate Bobby Portis was suspended eight games for the fight that occurred in Tuesday’s practice.

Jonas Valanciunas anchored the starting five with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Norm Powell finished with 15 points, Delon Wright chipped in with 13, and Kyle Lowry had 12.

DeMar DeRozan — who took centre-court to address the excited crowd before tipoff, saying “Thank you for all your support, let’s have a great season” — finished with 11 points.

The 30-year-old Miles was acquired in the off-season to boost Toronto’s three-point shooting, but has found another role as the veteran voice of the Raptors’ young second unit. They provided the turning point Thursday night. Clutching a 22-20 lead late in the first quarter, Casey subbed out his entire starting lineup.

Miles orchestrated a 20-2 run by the young guns — Wright, Jakob Poeltl, Fred VanVleet and rookie OG Anunoby. And when they finally took a seat, to much applause from the starters, they’d given the Raptors a 20-point cushion.

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