It was the second of two matchups between the Toronto Raptors and the Charlotte Hornets tonight at Scotiabank Arena, as the Raptors tried to get their first three game winning streak in a longgggg time — they hadn’t strung three together all season, until tonight.
The Raptors win three straight games for the first time this season pic.twitter.com/ex5HPnHyPj— Libaan Osman (@libaanstar1) January 13, 2023
After Tuesday’s well-rounded performance, the Raptors wanted to set the tone early with this Hornets team, and that’s just what they did.
This stretch of games is INCREDIBLY important to the Raptors’ season trajectory, as most of the opponents they face this week and next are below .500 teams, and winning could boost them in the standings.
It’s not entirely clear what the Raptors game plan is to finish off the season, with the trade deadline looming, team decisions to make, and their chances at a playoff spot in jeopardy. Their record after next week will surely help in the front office’s decision making.
With a short injury list (Porter Jr. and the guys down at the 905), The Raptors started out tonight with tons of energy. Their biggest lead of the first quarter was 13 points, and all starters shared the points pretty evenly.
It continued to be a great team effort by the Raptors in the second half. By the end of the half, four players were in double digits for Toronto.
The bench also contributed, with Chris Boucher making an impact early on. Precious Achiuwa was also active, sinking one of his silky three’s to add to the Raptors growing lead.
Of course, it was helped along by the fact that the Hornets offence wasn’t going very right at all for them. LaMelo Ball was the only player in double digits at the half.
By the end of the half, the Raptors were up 69-55.
Leading all scorers was Pascal Siakam with 18 points. LaMelo Ball was the only player for Charlotte in double digits at the end of the first half.
That being said, a little surprising the score was that close at the half, but we proceed.
Charlotte stayed in it through the third quarter, with Rozier heating up. He was up to 19 in by the end of the third quarter, along with Ball’s 22 points.
At the end of three quarters the Raptors were only up nine points, 97-88. They were able to keep that lead around the same throughout the fourth, ending the game with a 124-114 win against the Charlotte Hornets.
Along with taking the short series against Charlotte 2-0, it’s also the Raptors first three-game winning streak of the season. They need the momentum as they face the Atlanta Hawks Saturday to end their home stand. Then, they will head on the road for the rest of January.
Not only was the win itself a positive, it was also a full team effort (including the bench), something the team has been struggling with throughout the season. No player reached 40 minutes of playing time — though they got close — which is an improvement.
Let’s dive into some specific ways the Raptors succeeded tonight.
The bench contributed more, with Chris Boucher scoring five points, Hernangomez getting five of his own, and Koloko with three.
Yet it was Precious Achiuwa, who is continuing to get back to full health after an extensive time away with his ankle injury, who led the bench tonight. He grabbed five steals total, absolutely smashing his previous career high of two.
Precious continuing to improve is an excellent sign that the Raptors’ woes may be slightly improving — at least when it comes to defence.
Scottie Barnes finished the night against Charlotte with 21 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds. He was not only heavily involved in playmaking for his teammates, he was also active on the glass. Six of those eight rebounds were on the defensive end.
He is also continuing to be active in the paint. After the game, he mentioned he is continuing to learn his own strength as he not only scores more in the paint but is also held responsible for guarding the opposing team’s big men.
Once Scottie actually realizes how strong he is/builds up more he's gonna be O.G. level menace in the paint— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) January 13, 2023
Overall, it was an incredibly well rounded game for the sophomore. With nearly a triple double, he is continuing to prove how versatile he is in different aspects of the game. Just another reason to be patient as he figures out his rhythm in his second year.
There is no doubt at this point about the level of play Siakam has exhibited this season. He is on his way to getting his second All-Star nod, tied a franchise record for longest streak of games with 25+ points or more, and continues to be the factor in this team’s success.
Tonight, he recorded 35 points, three assists and seven rebounds. He was three for three on shots beyond the arc, and scored 11 of his 13 field goal attempts. Add in a 10/12 free throw stat onto there, and it’s safe to say he had a classic Siakam night.
Pascal Siakam only needed 13 field goal attempts to score his 35 points, the fewest FGA in a 35-point game in Raptors franchise history.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) January 13, 2023
He is averaging 25.8 points per game, 8.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists on the season — which, as Nick Nurse mentioned tonight, the assists should be higher.
The Raptors will be back in action on Saturday Night as they welcome the Atlanta Hawks to Toronto to complete their home stand. You can catch the game at 7:30 p.m. on TSN.