Grinding One Out


Lowry, Powell Combine for 61 Points, Pascal Siakam Closes Out the Win

Overcoming a second straight slow start, Pascal Siakam scored 11 of his 23 points in the final quarter – coming up huge with a late basket with 27 seconds remaining to give the Toronto Raptors a slim lead.

On Sunday evening, the Sacramento Kings gave the reigning champions everything they could handle, but the Raptors were able to come away with the 118-113 victory in a game that had a little bit of everything. Led by Norman Powell’s 31 points and a big 30 points from Kyle Lowry, the Raptors were able to secure another crucial game in their ongoing playoff seeding race.

The Kings were feisty all night, refusing to allow the Raptors to run away with the game.

It was truly a game of runs, headlined by big shots from both sides. Despite the return of Marc Gasol from a month-long absence, the Raptors bench struggled mightily, going through multiple scoring droughts and showing very little signs of life whenever Lowry wasn’t on the floor.

Nevertheless, the Raptors got just enough to improve to 45-18 on the season and are hopeful of getting Fred VanVleet back in the fold in the coming days. Once fully healthy, head coach Nick Nurse believes the Raptors will have a plethora of options in terms of rotations down the stretch and in the postseason.

“I think it’s really wide open. I don’t think [Serge or Marc] is the only question either,” said Nurse. “I really think Norm is forging his way in there as well. There are probably seven guys there that at any time any five of that seven could [start]. I think we obviously need a big and a point guard and then in the middle you are probably going to see Pascal out there most of the time. But I think we could start both Serge and Marc, we could start both Kyle and Norm. There’s a lot of things we could do but let me get to that when we get them all back and start figuring it out. I’d like again to see us be versatile and flexible with that.”

“The step up in play of Norm and OG and Serge has put us in this good position where we would even consider it. They have all had their opportunities here and made the most of it really.”

Of course, the key for the Raptors moving forward is not only to regain full health, but to remain healthy long-term – an issue that has persisted throughout what has otherwise been a very successful season to this point. VanVleet will surely be questionable tomorrow night when the Raptors host the Utah Jazz and it will be interesting to see whether the Raptors are willing to play Gasol in a back-to-back right out of the gate.

Time will tell, but with a three game edge over the Boston Celtics for the no. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors can afford to tread carefully.


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