Siakam shrugs off terrible Thursday with fantastic Friday as Raptors rout Sacramento
SACRAMENTO – There was a mid-range jumper smooth as silk and then a three-pointer and then another as Pascal Siakam showed in 79 seconds of basketball on Friday that he’s got a very short memory.
That personal blitz to begin the second half here, after Siakam had missed the final few minutes of the second getting three stitches to close a cut on his right eyebrow, helped power Toronto to a 108-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings and provide some redemption for the Raptors forward.
Siakam would finish with 32 points – Gary Trent was equally dominant offensively with 23 – as the Raptors snapped a three-game losing streak with a thorough thrashing of a dubious Sacramento franchise that seems destined to soon make a coaching change.
It was a sweet performance of Siakam, who was coming off his worst game of the season, a four-point, four-turnover, one-rebound clunker in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
But with his workout coach Rico Hines on the Kings bench as an assistant coach and with the necessary short memory NBA players must have, Siakam made his first four field goal attempts in a 13-point first quarter that got him, and the team, off on the right foot.
“My take on him right now is sometimes you have a stinker, man,” Nick Nurse said of Siakam before the game. “It’s why they made back-to-backs.
“Flush that one down and let’s go out and get a performance like you know you can play and go after it tonight.”
Siakam was far more himself Friday, as were the Raptors as a group. They took control of the game in the second quarter, primarily with a group of Trent and backups Dalano Banton, Precious Achiuwa, Svi Mykhailiuk and Chris Boucher punishing the Kings with their length and quickness and never took their foot off the gas.
After beginning this six-game road trip with losses in Portland and Utah and a tough game against Golden State coming Sunday, the Raptors needed a confidence boost.
They got it against a Kings team that’s in disarray and with legitimate concerns about the future employment status of coach Luke Walton.
The Raptors did get a boost by the return of Precious Achiuwa, who came off the bench behind starting centre Khem Birch.
It allowed Nurse to once again rotate the two big men throughout the game, a formula that was successful early in the season.
“I think losing our size for a while with Khem and Precious — this is the first time they’ve been back for eight games maybe; one has been out or the other one,” Nurse said.
“I thought immediately when we had those two guys and they started sharing that position (it) gave us some good defensive punch with some rim protection.”
The struggling Kings were just the tonic Toronto’s anaemic defence needed, as well. After looking subpar in consecutive losses to Detroit, Portland and Utah, the Raptors held the Kings to less than 40 per cent shooting and an abysmal 9-for-36 from three-point range.
“The questions (about the team’s defence) are justified because we’ve had three or four or maybe even more games where the defence hasn’t quite been itself,” Nurse said. “That’s a little bit concerning. You say is the effort there? Maybe it wasn’t one game. I think it was other games.”
The effort was definitely there on Friday as the Raptors dominated in every imaginable category.