Pascal wakes up Raptors in rare noon game

The Raptors have climbed the mountaintop to a season-best four game win streak.

First of all, the travelling Raptors fans flooding Little Caesars Arena were loud and made their presence known once again. At one point a Detroit “defence” chant was simply drowned out by “Let’s Go Raptors” during the fourth.

Pascal Siakam had a shoutout afterwards.

This was the Raptors first noon game (Eastern time) since Christmas Day 2019. The first 34 minutes didn’t provide much inspiring play. Both teams were shooting well under 40 percent and Toronto never ending crossing that line. Marvin Bagley feasted on the boards with 18 off the bench (11 offensive) as the Pistons won the rebounding battle 62-46. With a brutal stretch of games coming including a back to back today against Cleveland, the Raptors found themselves down seven in the final couple minutes of the third quarter. It would have been a BAD loss against the worst team in the East, even though Detroit has had close finishes lately.

Then Siakam changed the entire flow of the game.

Pascal takes Over

Siakam was the only Raptor that wasn’t playing subpar offensively to this point, claiming to be a morning person postgame. He had an all-around stretch in the final two minutes of the third on both ends to jolt the team, and probably fans everywhere in general.

Obviously the play recognized the most was Pascal driving Isaiah Livers to the ground with a crossover, one of the highlights of the season. The block was just as important, setting up Precious Achiuwa on the other end to give Toronto the lead. The Raptors never trailed again from that point.

Transition Lineup Defence

The Raptors struggled to score all game, but they had a string of stops using a Scottie Barnes-O.G. Anunoby plus reserves lineup for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. That helped Toronto maintain the lead ugly style.

These clips below are accidentally Hamidou Diallo lowlights, but he was the one consistently getting stopped.

The rim protection by Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa and Scottie was great. Jeff Dowtin Jr. played 20 minutes, primarily guarding Jaden Ivey (3-16 FG) and had Nick Nurse glowing about his defence once again after the game.

“We’re pretty confident with putting him on their best offensive guard. And that’s saying something.”

Nurse on Dowtin’s defence

Yak and Skills

Back to Siakam after Detroit tied the game. Jakob Poeltl found Pascal on two key cutting plays to put the Raptors breathing room.

Those were two of Poeltl’s four assists, once again unlocking a wrinkle in the Raptors offence that wasn’t there prior to his return.

Pascal mentioned that the team didn’t like how they executed offensively down the stretch vs New Orleans last game. Having Jak set him up for two set plays was a step in the right direction.

This also was a lousy game at the line for the Raptors. They were 18-30 (60 percent) at one point but credit to Siakam for knocking down four straight in the final seconds to push the lead to a two possession game. Pascal finished with 29 points, his sixth straight game scoring at least 25.

Fred’s two gifts

FVV missed his second straight game for personal reasons. He was also celebrating his 29th birthday and appreciated the team getting the job done without him. VanVleet’s shooting and playmaking was dearly missed this game.

Later on, Fred embraced a much more significant gift.
Up Next: Every team the Raptors play for the next month is in the playoff picture. Six of the next seven are on the road, starting with Cleveland today. Toronto is a half game behind Atlanta for eighth, and two back of slumping Miami for seventh.

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