Valanciunas scores 23, Miles has 22 in Raptors' victory over Bulls
Toronto Raptors forward CJ Miles (0) is congratulated by teammates on the bench during second half NBA basketball action against the Chicago Bulls in Toronto on Thursday, October 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, October 20, 2017 9:20AM EDT
TORONTO -- Veteran C.J. Miles and the Raptors' young second unit guaranteed Toronto opened the new NBA season with a victory on Thursday.
Miles had six three-pointers and 22 points to lift the Raptors to a 117-101 victory over the depleted Chicago Bulls.
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.
Robin Lopez led the Bulls with 18 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 leader of the Raptors' young second unit.
They provided the turning point in the season-opener. Clutching a 22-20 lead late in the first quarter, coach Dwane Casey subbed out his entire starting lineup with 1:40 to play. Leading 25-23 to start the second, Miles orchestrated a 20-2 run by the young guns -- Miles, Wright, Jakob Poeltl, Fred VanVleet and rookie OG Anunoby.
And when they finally took a seat, they'd given the Raptors a 20-point cushion.
With the Raptors leading 84-64 to start the fourth, Miles delighted the capacity Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,800 down the stretch, draining a pair of three-pointers to put Toronto up by 21 points with 5:25 to play. Lowry was fouled on a three-point shot the next time down the floor, and his three free throws put the Raptors ahead 105-81. Casey went deep into his bench to close out the victory.
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. Zach LaVine, who was acquired in the off-season trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, is still on the mend from a torn ACL.
Powell led the way with 10 points in the first quarter but the Raptors starters looked out of sorts, and led just 25-23 to start the second.
Toronto would stretch its lead to 27 points before heading into the halftime break up 58-37. A sloppy third quarter saw the Raptors' lead shrink to 14 points.
The Raptors host Philadelphia on Saturday before heading west on a six-game road trip.