Nightmares Revisited

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Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam Lead Raptors to Fifth Straight Victory

The Toronto Raptors aren’t going away.

Led by 22 points from Fred VanVleet and an 18 point, 15 rebound performance from Pascal Siakam, the Raptors earned a hard-fought 107-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, remaining just one game out of the second seed.

Playing in his fifth game since returning from a hamstring injury, Marc Gasol poured in 17 points on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting night. Norman Powell chipped in with 18 points in the win, while Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka added 16 apiece helping the Raptors improve to 30-14 on the season.

“I think there’s a plan of being more aggressive and looking at the basket as a first option, and after that, just playing out of that,” Gasol said. “Some games, the ball is going to go in more, sometimes it’s not, but I’m someone that always looks for the next play, next action, and try to get guys involved, when sometimes I overthink the game, trying to get going some of the guys that are not getting going.

“By being sometimes too unselfish, you can be selfish in a weird way.”

On the offensive side specifically, the Raptors have been putting together total team efforts consistently on their latest win streak, finding the open man, and unselfishly giving up the rock to the hot hand.

“It tells you that we’re sending the ball to an open player,” Head coach Nick Nurse said. “We’re not really going through the same guys. We’re moving it. We’re just finding the right reads, I think, a lot. And everybody’s getting their cracks at it.”

Meanwhile the age old theme continued as the Sixers were right back in their house of horrors with simply no answer for the pressure the Raptors applied. After shooting 56 percent from the field in the first quarter, the Sixers went ice cold once the Raptors put the clamps on, finishing at a 38 percent clip from the field for the game. Outside of a few much-needed three-pointers, Philadelphia just couldn’t get anything going offensively.

“Just got to play through some of that stuff once in a while, I’m just really proud that they dug in and played defence, gave themselves a chance,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

In a bit of injury news, because what is a Raptors stretch without some of those, Patrick McCaw suffered a broken nose after being inadvertently smacked in the face by Sixers big man Norvel Pelle. He is expected to see a specialist in the morning for further evaluation.

The Raptors are set to take on the New York Knicks next on Friday night.

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