With no VanVleet, Siakam narrowly misses triple-double in win over Charlotte


Published January 25, 2022 at 9:34 pm

TORONTO — Pascal Siakam narrowly missed a triple-double in his stint at point guard, Toronto got off to a hot start and the short-handed Raptors beat the Charlotte Hornets 125-113 on Tuesday.

With Fred VanVleet sitting out with a sore right knee, Siakam started at point guard. He had 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, while Gary Trent Jr. poured in a season-high 32 points.

Anunoby had 24 points, while Chris Boucher had 12 points, Malachi Flynn chipped in with 11, and rookie Dalano Banton had 10 for the Raptors (23-22), who were also missing Scottie Barnes (right wrist swelling).

The Raptors also lost Justin Champagnie early on. He and P.J. Washington were both ejected for a scuffle with 1:46 left in the first quarter. 

Lamelo Ball had 25 points to lead the Hornets (26-22).

Two days after they trailed Portland by a whopping 34 points in the first half, the Raptors looked like a different team out of the gate. They assembled an early 18-point lead, and scored a season-high 76 points in the first half.

Ball scored on a running dunk, swinging off the rim with one hand, the highlight of a Hornets’ 10-0 run that pulled them to within three points. But the Raptors weathered the storm, and when Trent Jr. went to the free-throw line for four shots — he was fouled on a three-point attempt, and the Hornets were assessed a technical — the Raptors were back up by 21, their largest lead of the game. Toronto went into the fourth up 105-86.

A dunk by Kelly Oubre Jr., sliced the difference to nine points early in the fourth, but that was as close as the visitors would come, and when Anunoby drilled a three-pointer with 3:21 to play, it put the Raptors back up by 20 points. Coach Nick Nurse then emptied his bench. 

Trent Jr. and Siakam combined for 24 points in the first quarter, and a three-pointer from Banton capped a 19-3 Raptors run that put them up by 18 points late in the frame. Toronto led 39-27 to start the second.

Seldom-used Flynn, who’d played the previous night with the team’s G League affiliate Raptors 905, had nine points in the second quarter and Toronto went into the halftime break up 76-61.

The Raptors face a couple of former star teammates in the next two games. They’re in Chicago to take on DeMar DeRozan and the Bulls on Wednesday, then meet Kyle Lowry and the Heat in Miami on Sunday.

They play in Atlanta on Monday before returning home to host Miami then Chicago in a pair of games that would have big-ticket items for Toronto fans. The Raptors continue to play in an empty Scotiabank Arena, however, due to provincial COVID-19 restrictions. The government recently announced that a half-capacity crowd will be permitted as of Feb. 21, and a full crowd March 14.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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