Raptors’ Rajakovic on Barnes leaving bench early: ‘Definitely a learning opportunity’

Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic meets with reporters after the team's loss to the San Antonio Spurs to discuss Scottie Barnes' performance and the forward leaving the bench before the game had finished.

If losing by 23 to the 10-win San Antonio Spurs wasn’t bad enough for the Toronto Raptors, having the new face of their franchise leave the bench early had to add insult to injury.

With seconds left in the 122-99 loss, Scottie Barnes decided to head down the tunnel before the final buzzer sounded.

Barnes, who was recently named an NBA All-Star for the first time, finished the night 3-of-15 from the field for seven points and had five turnovers. He did chip in nine assists and nine rebounds, but Barnes was visibly frustrated all game.

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After the game, Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic was asked about Barnes calling it a night early.

“It is definitely a learning opportunity for all the players on the team,” Rajakovic said. “From the young guys to older vets, this is not the performance we want to have. This is not the competitive spirit we want to have. We need to look in the mirror and figure out what we need to do.”

It’s worth noting that the Raptors faced a similar situation early in the 2019-20 bubble season when Pascal Siakam fouled out, and then decided to head to the locker room with 26 seconds left in the game. The Raptors decided to bench Siakam for one game following the incident.

“There’s a certain way we want to do things and everyone has to be a part of that,” then Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said of the benching.

What approach the Raptors choose to take with Barnes remains to be seen.

There are going to be growing pains as the new-look Raptors continue to develop a new culture. And Monday was definitely one of those nights.

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