If Toronto’s offence needed a confidence boost at this early stage in their pre-season, the Australian National Basketball League’s Cairns Taipans provided it.
The visiting Aussie group, which was admittedly down a few key players due to illness and injury and even picked up former 10th overall NBA draft pick Elfrid Payton to offset the losses, were overmatched from the get-go in this one.
The Raptors starters and first five off the bench combined to score 71 points in the first half to put the game away early.
Led by Scottie Barnes’s 14 points, the Raptors starting five spread the scoring around with Chris Boucher (playing in place of the under-the-weather Jakob Poeltl) and Pascal Siakam both finishing with 12 points and OG Anunoby with 10
Off the bench, Malachi Flynn had 10 points and Jalen McDaniels and Thad Young had nine each to led the way in that first half.
Payton, the 10th pick in the 2014 NBA draft, was eyeing a comeback in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers until a few weeks ago, when he was waived.
With the Taipans short of bodies, he was more than willing to use the opportunity to showcase his game. Peyton wound up playing 26 minutes and made the most of them by finishing with 21 points, one fewer than Patrick Miller, who led all scorers with 22 in the game.
Payton hasn’t played in the NBA since 2021-22 then with the Phoenix Suns.
The Raptors will resume their NBA pre-season schedule on Tuesday night in Chicago before returning home for its fourth and final game of the pre-season on Friday versus Washington.
Javon Freeman-Liberty, one of three Raptors on two-way contracts, had a big second half for the hosts, pumping in 15 points in just 14 minutes.
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