Pascal Siakam blooms in the Garden

Pascal Siakam's 52 points snap the losing streak against the Knicks.

The Toronto Raptors went into last nights game in the midst of a harrowing losing streak that had morale down in the fanbase and made basketball media question the direction of the team. As the old adage goes, winning cures all, and Toronto did exactly that last night, WIN. They rolled into the Mecca of basketball in Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks who were as hot as can be coming into this game. The team showed a lot of grit and a lot of fight in this game and they truly EARNED this win.

From the opening tip you could tell that this was going to be a special game for Pascal Siakam. He opened the game with 9 points in the first quarter and everything he did just looked so effective and efficient. He shot 4 of 6 and was scoring on the Knicks at all three levels and quite honestly The Knicks didn’t have anyone who could stay in front of him. The second quarter is where Pascal was really starting to feel it. After he toasted New York for 9 in the first he came back and bludgeoned them with a staggering 17 points in the second quarter. Pascal really showed New York that nobody on their team could hold him as he seemingly walked his way to those 17 points. He toasted NY with so many pull up mid range jumpers, he slid his way past defenders for rim attempts, and he even knocked down a three, he shot 7 of 9 in this quarter and this gave him 26 points just at halftime. It’s easy to get caught up in the first half that Pascal had but it was also OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet who poured in some well needed points in the first half, OG with 11 and Fred with 28. Even with all this scoring getting done the Knicks were within 10 at halftime mostly due to RJ Barrett who despite being suffocated all night at that point found a way to 19 first half points.

The second half is where things got really interesting and where Toronto really had to dig deep for this win. After a third quarter run where the Knicks were able to take back the lead it was Pascal Siakam once again willing this team back on track. Pascal scored 17 points in the third quarter and once again not a soul in a Knicks jersey could deter him from the rim and when they tried they just added a free throw to the inevitable result. It was also in this quarter where we got an old fashioned duel between the best players of the two teams. Julius Randle really erupted in this quarter and found himself adding 10 points of his own to really make this game tight. One thing I must credit Toronto for is the amount of havoc they caused on defense which led to many turnovers and how they took care of the ball themselves.

The fourth quarter was as dramatic as it gets. The Knicks were able to storm back late due to the heroics of RJ Barrett and Julius Randle combined as they went for 16 points together. After a couple stops and a roaring dunk by Barrett the Knicks had the lead, they had the momentum, and it appeared that Raptors fans would go to bed with the same heartache they have been accustomed to lately. This is where the aforementioned fight came into play. Even though they were missing, Toronto refused to come away empty handed and they battled fiercely on the glass until Pascal Siakam found his way to the line once again. On the next possession OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet combined on defense to put a stop to the scorching RJ Barrett at the most crucial time. This stop led to a Fred VanVleet three that sucked the air right out of the Garden. The next few moments were pretty shocking, Malachi Flynn blocked a three point attempt and somehow someway Julius Randle missed a wide open under the basket layup attempt and these plays were essentially the nail in the coffin for New York as Fred and Pascal hit their free throws to extend the lead and Toronto was able to walk away victorious.

Watching Pascal last night was an incredible experience, if you search up Hercules on Google there should be a photo of Pascal because last night was the true embodiment of a herculean effort. Fred VanVleet deserves some love as well as he dropped 28 points of his own and he finally hit a clutch shot. Toronto still faces some tough opponents in the near future starting with Cleveland in their next game, but hopefully they take this win and tell themselves that if they can execute properly, and remain poised in high pressure situations like this, they will be fine.