Pascal Siakam, Raptors snatch victory from jaws of defeat against lowly Wizards
|O. Porter Jr.14 MIN, 5 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-6 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-1 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -13 +/-|
The obvious replacement for O.G. Anunoby following a housework-related injury, Porter Jr. slotted into the starting lineup and attempted to hold his own as gracefully as possible. His first bucket came going baseline putting the ball on the floor and getting an and-1, with Washington respecting the deep threat. There’s a significant downgrade from Anunoby defensively, and Porter Jr. was never going to bridge the gap on that front.
|P. Siakam38 MIN, 39 PTS, 11 REB, 7 AST, 3 STL, 15-24 FG, 0-4 3FG, 9-14 FT, 0 BLK, 6 TO, 18 +/-|
For anyone who ever thought that Pascal Siakam’s humdrum performance to begin the 2023-24 campaign was some sort of indicator that he’s playing his way out of Toronto, I hope you watch highlights of this outing and reevaluate your stance. The Raptors don’t win this ball game unless Siakam decides in the third quarter (a quarter in which he scored 22 of the team’s 36 points) that enough was enough. It’s a shame such a night was needed against the lowly Wizards, but it was a reminder of the All-NBA talent he possesses and how important he is to this current core.
|J. Poeltl24 MIN, 13 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 0 STL, 6-8 FG, 0-0 3FG, 1-3 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -14 +/-|
Darko Rajakovic elected to ride the hot hand and play the matchups late by rolling with Chris Boucher over Poeltl to close things out, which was ultimately the right move. Poeltl’s contributions mostly came in a first half where the game was very much getting away from Toronto. He did catch some air as the trailer, accepting the feed from Siakam for a fun throwdown.
|S. Barnes38 MIN, 19 PTS, 9 REB, 4 AST, 5 STL, 8-17 FG, 0-2 3FG, 3-4 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -3 +/-|
Barnes is at his best when he’s exploiting matchups and muscling his way to the rim. His jumper has been a welcome addition to his offensive repertoire, but nothing beats Barnes backing his defender down and displaying his underrated power. Kuzma faced the brunt of that more often than not, especially when he was forced out of bounds with 6.1 seconds left. There were moments of sloppiness and questionable decision-making, and this wasn’t the quintessential Barnes experience, but it all came together in the end.
|D. Schroder35 MIN, 4 PTS, 3 REB, 6 AST, 0 STL, 1-12 FG, 0-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 2 +/-|
This was probably the worst game of the season for Schroder. The bar has been set quite high, but on this night, everything from his efficiency to his energy on both ends was severely lacking. Perhaps his biggest contribution was running out the game clock in the closing moments. To sum up his game in just a few possessions, Schroder botched an open corner 3-pointer at the tail end of the second quarter, and then fouled Kyle Kuzma on a 3-pointer for a four-point play.
|G. Dick24 MIN, 8 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 3-4 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 2 +/-|
The rookie was coach Darko’s first substitute off the bench as the Raptors sorely needed some floor spacing and a long-range threat. Dick certainly qualifies as such, but he’s only connecting on 21.7 percent of his 3-pointers. Suffice it to say, Dick drilling his first two shots from deep in the first quarter inspired a great deal of confidence and woke up what was a lifeless crowd at the time. Dick has his shortcomings defensively, but his energy has yet to be in question.
|C. Boucher20 MIN, 7 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 3-5 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 3 BLK, 0 TO, 14 +/-|
It’s taken time, but Boucher is slowly but surely getting into the good graces of his coach and carving out a consistent role as a key reserve. His help defense was superb, especially late as two of his three blocks came in the final five minutes. A dunk in transition cut Washington’s lead to four, and another clutch bucket off a Siakam dime tied the game with 51.1 seconds remaining.
|P. Achiuwa19 MIN, 10 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 5-8 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 8 +/-|
For Christmas, Santa Claus will need to bring Achiuwa the strongest, long-lasting adhesive on the market. If that’s what it takes to keep the basketball from going through his hands, then so be it. In Achiuwa’s defense, though, the 24-year-old held his own in the second half and had some key plays at pivotal moments, including intercepting a cross-court pass for a breakaway dunk. Here’s hoping he can carry this forward.
|M. Flynn23 MIN, 6 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2-5 FG, 1-4 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 12 +/-|
It wasn’t splashy or significant, and with no Gary Trent Jr. to provide a scoring punch, perhaps this was an opportunity squandered by Flynn to make a more positive impression on the scoreboard. Was he a detriment to what the Raptors were looking to accomplish? Not at all. And that in and of itself is a plus. Flynn being on the hardwood late in a tight game was the equivalent of seeing color for the first time. It’s definitely a surprise, but he’s earning these chances. You know Nick Nurse isn’t the man on the sidelines any longer when.
|J. McDaniels05 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -6 +/-|
Easily forgotten, which sums up McDaniels’ early tenure with Toronto.
Rajakovic was bailed out by Siakam elevating the Raptors out of the sewers early and inevitably cutting into Washington’s lead before sealing the deal in the fourth quarter. Toronto came out of the gates lifeless and unenthused, which is inexcusable following an utter beatdown at the hands of the Celtics on Saturday. He earns some brownie points by giving some leeway to Achiuwa, Boucher, and Flynn in a close game. It paid off.
Things We Saw
- A 23-point comeback is the fourth-largest in franchise history. That’s a feel-good statistic, but one you wish the Raptors would have tried to avoid from tip-off. As fun and exciting as that final push was, it came against one of the worst teams in the Association playing on the second night of a back to back.