By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on December 13, 2023.
TORONTO – Pascal Siakam scored 33 points in his best three-point shooting performance in over a month as the Toronto Raptors held off the Atlanta Hawks 135-128 on Wednesday.
Siakam pulled down seven rebounds and had seven assists as Toronto (10-14) snapped a four-game losing skid.
He was 5 for 6 from beyond the arc for his best three-point shooting performance in 15 games. Siakam went 5 for 8 in a 130-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 1.
Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl each had a double-double in the victory. Barnes scored 27 and had 10 rebounds, while Poeltl had 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Trae Young had 35 points and tied a season high with 17 assists as Atlanta (9-14) lost its fifth straight. Centre Clint Capela also had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Raptors overtook the Hawks for 10th in the Eastern Conference with the win and will host Atlanta again on Friday. Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic said that the back-to-back games against the Hawks were “very important.”
“They’re kind of right where we’re at,” said Rajakovic before opening tip-off. “There are no empty games in an NBA season, because at the end of the year you look back and say, ‘If we won that game, we would be this. If we “¦’
“I don’t want to be in the position to talk about ifs. We need to approach those games with maximum focus and concentration and motivation and get those wins back.”
Siakam hit a three-pointer from 23 feet out to give Toronto a one-point lead with 37 seconds left in the half but Dejounte Murray answered with a three of his own to give Atlanta a 66-64 lead after two quarters.
Young had a double-double by the intermission with 20 points and 11 assists.
Gary Trent Jr. nailed a three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left in the third as the Raptors claimed a 103-95 lead. Toronto’s turnaround was thanks in large part to Barnes and point guard Dennis Schroder scoring eight points apiece.
Schroder surpassed 10,000 points over his 10 seasons in the NBA with Atlanta, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and the Raptors.
Toronto led by as many as 10 points in the fourth, but back-to-back three-pointers from Bogdan Bogdanovic pulled the Hawks to within two with 6:26 left to play.
The Raptors reeled off six straight points after Bogdanovic’s threes, including a thunderous dunk from OG Anunoby that brought the sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd of 19,800 fans to their feet.
Atlanta wasn’t able to close that gap for moth of the rest of the period until Saddiq Bey had a driving dunk, a tip shot, and a made free throw in rapid succession.
Murray then hit a three-pointer with 1:14 left to play to pull the Hawks to within six.
After a Raptors timeout, Barnes had a field goal but Capela sank a hook shot on Young’s season-best 17th assist.
Anunoby finished off an alley-oop pass from Siakam with a dunk to keep Toronto up by eight with 36.1 seconds to go. Murray made another three-pointer but Schroder hit two free throws to keep the Raptors ahead by seven with 25 seconds left.
Poeltl was fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound and made his two free throws. Young than had an uncontested layup for the game’s final score.
ALL HEALTHY – Forwards Otto Porter Jr. and Chris Boucher were both available to play in the game after they got banged up over Toronto’s past two games. Porter left Friday’s 119-116 loss in Charlotte with a foot contusion. Boucher left Monday’s 136-130 loss in New York with a left thigh contusion.
UP NEXT – Toronto hosts Atlanta again on Friday night before welcoming the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.
The Hawks travel to Cleveland after Friday’s game to play the Cavaliers on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2023.