Playing on the second night of a road back-to-back without OG Anunoby, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see the Toronto Raptors mail tonight’s game in. Instead, they feasted on the perpetually-struggling Sacramento Kings, jumping out to a double-digit lead in the second quarter and never looking back, coming away with a 108-89 win.
We all wanted to see a Pascal Siakam bounceback game after his subpar performance in Utah, and boy, did we get one. Two early turnovers were disheartening, but Siakam quickly turned aggressive, making decisive plays with the ball on offense. He did it going to the rim, and then used that inside game to set up his midrange game, giving himself space to get his shot off. And that’s how it went all night for Pascal:
Siakam, who also got three stitches on his right temple after taking an elbow under the hoop, led all scorers with season-high 32 points, and he did it on just 12 shots. He pulled down eight rebounds as well.
The Kings, meanwhile, couldn’t hit a darn thing (except free throws) through three quarters. They hit just 9-of-37 shots from deep and shot 38% overall, and despite a fourth-quarter push, never truly threatened in the second half.
De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 17.
The Raptors used a sensational finish to the second quarter, fueled by Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr., and a precise, workmanlike approach to offense in the third, to build their lead; a three-point play from Svi Mykhailiuk, followed by a deep bomb from Trent, pushed the lead to 30, 96-66 as the third came to a close.
Trent finished with 23 points and shot 5-for-11 from downtown.
Things stalled for the Raptors to start the fourth, as they scored a mere two points in the first six minutes, a stretch that included both a shot clock violation and an eight-second violation. A 13-2 Kings run got Sactown as close as 19 before a Scottie Barnes dish to Precious Achiuwa under the hoop stopped the bleeding, and the Raptors cruised from there.
The Raptors didn’t get off to a good start; their first possession saw them sharing the rock, but a little too slowly, leading to Tyrese Haliburton snatching a lazy Siakam pass and taking it the other way for a dunk. Their second possession? A shot-clock violation.
Things settled somewhat from there, but it was a back-and-forth first as both teams turned the ball over at a high rate, and neither team played a particularly strong transition defense — nor did they protect the paint well. The Raptors had five turnovers, leading to six Kings points, in the first six minutes, and the Kings scored 12 points in the paint in the frame as they jumped out to an early six-point lead.
The first quarter saw Precious Achiuwa make his return to the floor after missing the past three games. As soon as he came into the game, he set a screen for Fred VanVleet and rolled to the hoop, and Fred found him with a beautiful wraparound pass for the flush.
Siakam followed that up with a floater that tied the score at 17. Siakam finished the frame with 13 points, including four free throws, but he also picked up his second foul with two minutes remaining, limiting his first-half minutes.
And that was a problem for all of the Raptors, who just couldn’t keep their hands to themselves; they committed eight fouls in the first quarter, and Harrison Barnes camped out at the line, shooting 8-of-8 on freebies in the period. But a strong bench run, including six late free throws from Gary Trent Jr., Chris Boucher and Dalano Banton — and a sensational block by Boucher, who wiped out a De’Aaron Fox drive — helped the Raptors finish the frame on a 9-0 run and lead 30-27.
The second quarter saw the Raptors start out with a huge burst of energy. After Achiuwa tracked down a Gary Trent miss, he fed Svi Mykhailiuk for a layup. Chris Boucher then had a transition dunk off a Buddy Hield miss, and Dalano Banton hauled in a Richaun Holmes miss and took it the length of the court for a twisting layup that pushed the Raptors’ lead to 10.
Unfortunately, the fouls continued to pile up, slowing things down for the Raptors, allowing the Kings to hang around. All told there were 25 fouls called in the first half! Thankfully for the Raptors, a late flurry from Gary Trent, who finished the first half with 18 points, helped them maintain their lead, but he didn’t do it alone. We were treated to a YouTube video’s worth of Scottie Barnes highlights in the final two minutes: Barnes pulled in a defensive board and went off to the races, where he called his own number on a short J, then did it again, only this time dished a full-speed, cross-body no-look pass to Khem Birch for a dunk. Throw in a charge drawn by Birch (remember those? It was Toronto’s first of the year!), and a halftime buzzer-beater kissed off the glass by VanVleet, and the Raptors were suddenly up 18, 63-45, as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Achiuwa finished with six points and five rebounds in 25 minutes, and showed no signs of being slowed by his sore shoulder. Chris Boucher shot nothing but bricks, but was extremely active on the glass, where despite getting routinely pounded by bigger Kings players, he still managed to pull in 12 rebounds.
The Raptors at times started pressuring the ball high in the frontcourt, as they did last night, leaving way too much space for the Kings to operate. It wasn’t as blatantly bad as last night against Utah, but it’s still a questionable scheme. Of course, it helps that the Kings, are, um, not the Jazz. They’re also not the Golden State Warriors, who the Raptors play on Sunday; Draymond Green will pick that scheme apart!
Join us on Sunday evening to see how that one shakes out, but for now, let’s just enjoy this win.