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Raptors hold on in a barn-burner of a game | Raptors need to make a decision on Siakam stat | James Dolan is a bitch

Raptors Takeaways: Throwback late-game execution completes comeback over Pacers – Sportsnet

With 30.3 seconds on the clock and the Raptors down one, the Raptors emptied out the side of the floor nearest inbounder Pascal Siakam. With three players stationed on the weak side, Siakam entered the ball to Barnes just above the 3-point line.

Siakam had 36 points on 13-of-24 shooting and 9-of-11 at the line at this point in the game, absolutely picking apart a Pacers team that is as shaky defensively as they are electric offensively. Especially down two of their best defenders in Aaron Nesmith and Andrew Nembhard, the Pacers conceded space, position and trips to the line throughout this game, at least once the Raptors figured out how to push those advantages. Understandably, the Pacers were hyper-aware of Siakam getting the ball back after the inbound pass.

So when Barnes caught the ball, his man, Myles Turner, shifted toward the middle of the floor to block off Siakam’s path to the paint on the hand-off, or maybe even break up the transfer. Siakam’s man, Obi Toppin, slid under Barnes and Turner, looking to meet Siakam at the nail. With two defenders worried about Siakam and leaning too far one way, Barnes revealed the play was a keeper play for him, turning the corner and delivering a momentous go-ahead dunk. No help came in time from the weak side, and Turner was in time enough only to foul Barnes and give him an extra point at the line.

This is the type of play that makes late-game scenarios so fascinating. Darko Rajakovic was engaging in offence-defence substitutions to maximize around the four combined timeouts that were used in the final 35 seconds, after already going nominally smaller to allow more switching on Tyrese Haliburton actions. Rick Carlisle had to decide who was and how to hide his lesser defenders on key plays, a bit of a Sophie’s Choice with the league’s No. 29-ranked defence. Do you sell out to stop Siakam, who was having the best game of his season? Do you help more aggressively off of shooters, knowing both Siakam and Barnes are capable kick-out passers? And what do you make of the threat of Barnes, on a night where he hadn’t been quite as effective as we’ve seen but has shown a real knack for stepping up in key moments?

The right answer is the one that works. Whether Turner or Toppin over-extended relative to their assignment, the Pacers just overindexed to Siakam and off of Barnes, or the Raptors just executed a creative quick-hitter involving two very talent

It was not without a few more dramatics. That bucket put the Raptors ahead by two with 27 seconds to play, and after Haliburton missed on a drive, Barnes split a pair of free throws after an intentional foul. Haliburton then drew a foul on O.G. Anunoby that Rajakovic used his final timeout to challenge, ultimately losing. Haliburton’s two free throws put Indiana within one, and with both teams now out of timeouts, Gary Trent Jr. had a chance to ensure at least an overtime period.

He missed both freebies. A three-point shooting guard who shot 83.2 percent on free throws over the last four seasons went 0-for-2, inexplicably dropping his free-throw percentage on the season to 55.6 per cent. As a team, the Raptors are 28th at the stripe. It’s a bizarre trend, and it set Buddy Hield up for the type of shot that feels like it’s so often sunk the Raptors in the past: A scrambling, somehow-open, buzzer-beating 3-point shot from just below the logo.

It didn’t fall. Raptors win.

Pascal Siakam stops that familiar feeling from creeping into Raptors’ season – The Athletic

For now, Pascal Siakam has paused that conversation, to the extent it existed in the background of this Raptors season. Almost from the second Raptors coach Darko Rajaković called timeout after the bad start, Siakam took the game into his hands. He finished with 36 points and 10 rebounds, as the Raptors held off the prolific Pacers 132-131 in a wild game. After as embarrassing a loss as they had all season an evening earlier, Siakam’s effort was necessary in keeping the Raptors confident and engaged in this season. It might seem early for such talk, but the Raptors going 0-2 on this trip, letting a pair of opponents have their way with the team’s defence, could have been deflating. It seemed like the Raptors were becoming a decent approximation of last year’s team spiritually, if not stylistically.

Siakam was doing a little bit of everything to keep the Raptors in the game with the league’s best offensive team. Aside from his 3-pointer, Siakam had everything working. A lot of it didn’t come in the desired point-five offence — the Raptors had 26 assists on 48 buckets, their second-lowest assist percentage of the year — but keeping the team afloat became paramount. Siakam’s assortment of spin moves and counters to turnaround jumpers was working.

Promisingly, that led to some of Siakam’s best play working in tandem with Scottie Barnes all year. He was drawing help, and kicking it to a popping Barnes above the break. Things were reciprocal, with Barnes finding Siakam on a slippery cut. Siakam and Barnes were both very active on the glass. Barnes had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Siakam shut the door on what looked like last year’s vibes creeping into this season. For the second consecutive night, the Raptors didn’t seem to have their heads in the game. Once again, unforced turnovers were a problem, whether it was Jakob Poeltl fumbling the ball out of bounds, Dennis Schröder getting stripped or the point guard and OG Anunoby not connecting on a simple entry pass. The Raptors have had problems with starting games over the last few weeks; whatever the cause, it has remained an issue. Gary Trent Jr. wasn’t even aware when the shot clock expired on one play.

They weren’t following basic tenets of playing against the Pacers, like not letting Buddy Hield step into any 3-pointer or simply stopping the ball in transition when Haliburton had it. At some point, from a practical point of view, you have to wonder how you let somebody get behind you after you shoot — and make — two free throws.

Rajaković seemed to recognize how important this game was for the psyche of this team after Tuesday night. He kept Siakam in for the entire first quarter and had two other starters on the court with him at all times in the opening frame. The Raptors have yet to find a bench rotation that works, so the coach was trying to minimize how much the Raptors were depending on him. This was the most Siakam (37 minutes and 36 seconds) and Barnes (39:25) played in any regulation game this season. Sound familiar?

Those are concerns — legitimate ones. For a night, they were secondary.

Toronto Raptors vs Indiana Pacers Final Score: 132-131 – Raptors HQ

Malachi started the Raptors off strong in the second quarter, opening up scoring with a pair of well-timed 3-pointers, and a cut to the rim to keep the defence honest. Scottie’s scoring struggles seemed to continue at the beginning of the quarter, but he stayed with the play defensively. The energy shift for the Raptors was obvious in this frame, picking up their perimeter defence and hustling back to get set, making it challenging for the Pacers, who needed to play deeper into the shot clock and generate possessions off a set defence, both of which they are less comfortable doing. The change in intensity helped provide the Raptors the inertia to go on a 7-0 run, and eventually generated the first lead since the opening basket with a 3-point shot by Scottie. Indiana adjusted in kind, moving the ball effectively along the perimeter for long range shots that prevented the Raptors from creating much scoring separation. Throughout the quarter, the Pacers routinely utilized baseline drives with a pass through the paint to an outside cutter from the wing. Neither team was able to pull away late in the quarter, as offensive heroics from Siakam and Schröder kept the Raptors in the lead, but the high IQ passing from Haliburton kept the Pacers within a possession to end the half.

Limiting turnovers and staying aggressive on defence were important messages for the Raptors to take into the second half, but early in the third, neither one was evident. Schröder and Siakam continued to be aggressive early in the quarter, forcing paint touches that were working effectively in the first half. The Pacers continued to find ways to get behind the Raptors’ defence or roll to the basket, leading to even scoring for the first half of the quarter. Toronto lost a few key possessions on sloppy plays, allowing the Pacers to go on a 9-0 run, stopped only by Pascal who cashed in on consecutive trips down the floor to bring the Raptors back within one possession. On the next play, he found Gary Trent Jr. for a 3-ball that tied the game and sent the Pacers into a timeout. Pascal’s dominance was on display for the rest of the quarter, utilizing a variety of techniques to score. Indiana refused to give in, continuing to push the pace and be relentless offensively, managing to get back out in front by 1 to end the quarter.

The Raptors started the fourth with Pascal on the bench for a short break, but managed to be productive in their minutes without him. Malachi Flynn’s energy was one of the biggest contributions early, and strong effort on the boards provided second chance opportunities. Frustratingly, for every scoring possession Toronto managed, Indiana’s speed down the floor after the made basket quickly tied the game back up. Halfway into the fourth, Pascal made his way back onto the court, continuing to anchor the Raptors in the closing minutes of a game that continued to fluctuate back and forth. The Pacers managed to create a small lead, only to have it quickly erased by late game 3-point heroics by Schröder and O.G. Anunoby. The final two minutes of action followed the theme of the game, with frequent lead changes and a rapid pace. Free throws by Pascal provided a lead, but a quick time out and perfectly drawn-up play for Haliburton forced the Raptors into a timeout, now down by 1. Scottie quickly turned the corner for a wide open dunk on the Raptors’ turn to inbound the ball. Both teams exchanged free throw trips, and despite the Raptors’ continued struggles at the line, their 1-point lead was maintained to the final possession, where Buddy Hield’s inability to make a last-second deep three-point shot ensured the Raptors’ victory.

Raptors edge Pacers in a game that was all about offence – Toronto Star

It was a brilliant offensive game all around with 26 lead changes and 16 ties. The Raptors shot 53.3 per cent from the field, the Pacers shot 54.9 and it was a night full of energy from the opening tip.

The final score shouldn’t have come as any big surprise.

The Pacers averaged a league-best 128.1 points per game before the night began but also gave up 125.9 per outing, 30th of 30 teams.

The Raptors are a passable but not a brilliant defensive team so they were likely to give up a bunch of points, but even their suspect offence could thrive in the face of only token Pacers resistance.

Pascal Siakam shredded mostly single coverage for 36 points — his third game of 30 or more this season — and Dennis Schröder added 26. Toronto got a huge boost of 14 points off the bench from Malachi Flynn, who took full advantage of Indiana’s porous defence.

The electric Pacers offence is juiced by guards Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield and they did not disappoint.

Haliburton had 33 points and Hield made seven three-pointers on a 31 point night.

Haliburton missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer after Gary Trent Jr. missed a couple of crucial free throws.

Pascal Siakam Leads Raptors to Thrilling Victory Over Pacers – Sports Illustrated

Yes, Pascal Siakam is still a star. He showed as much with a 36-point showing against the Pacers. But it’s also clear the Raptors are, well, middling. They’re a team that can get blown out by the Orlando Magic one night and then look like some offensive superpower the following night.

For Toronto, the future is Barnes. He was the one with the ball in his hands and the game on the line Wednesday. When the Raptors bluffed a handoff to Siakam late in the fourth, Barnes called his own number, beating Myles Turner to the hoop for the and-1 finish that gave the Raptors the lead.

The Pacers didn’t make it easy. Haliburton put Indiana up with less than a minute to go with a smooth floater the moment OG Anunoby took one misstep in the wrong direction. He then pulled the Pacers within one with a pair of free throws, but Indiana couldn’t nail the last-second would-be game-winner.

Toronto wouldn’t have been in the position to even keep it close if not for Siakam. He was seemingly everywhere for the Raptors and when the Pacers decided to smother him, he found the kick-out pass to Anunoby in the corner to give Toronto a late lead. He again recaptured that lead with 36 seconds to go at the free throw line before Barnes took over.

It was miraculous that the Raptors kept up with Indiana considering how high-powered this Pacers attack can be and the type of performance Toronto turned in Tuesday night against the Orlando Magic.

Raptors report card a good one after thrilling win over Indiana Pacers | Toronto Sun

This was a clinic run by Toronto’s most decorated player. Siakam was unstoppable. Indiana is a terrible defensive team, but still has the type of rim protector in Myles Turner that Siakam has had some trouble with in the past. Not in this one. Siakam scored 13 points in the crucial third quarter, handed out four assists (three of them creating three-pointers) and even hit a three-pointer for the second time in three games. That doesn’t sound like much, but he’d missed 15-of-16 threes before making one against Detroit. Even as the Raptors figure out what to do with Siakam in the offence and long-term, you have to admire his professionalism in turning in performances like this.

Schroder appears to be feeling better since tweaking his knee and was quite strong offensively in this one. He was creating, hitting shots (over 60% from the field for the second straight night) and even grabbed six boards, his second-most as a Raptor. Like every Raptor, Schroder couldn’t slow down Tyrese Haliburton and Co., but so far nobody in the NBA can.

Not a perfect night, the late free throw miss and three turnovers would indicate that, along with 7-17 shooting, but Barnes was still really good. He had a game-high 12 rebounds, four steals and hit a couple of three-pointers in another one where he did a little bit of everything. His driving dunk also was one of the key plays of the game.

Two big-time quarters for Flynn were enough for us to say this was Flynn’s best game of the season. In a second quarter that saw the Raptors completely flip the game, Flynn hit all three of his shot attempts, two of them three-pointers and hand out two assists. He was even better in the fourth, helping the Raptors stay close to the Pacers and eventually win. Flynn got to the hoop easily in the quarter and made a big impact.

Not a flashy game for Poeltl, but a quietly effective one on offence. Poeltl handed out six assists, finally showing the element of his game we’ve seen so often either last season or while he was with the Spurs. Five of the helpers led to points in the paint. On the other hand, he took a season low four shot attempts, but has at least made 19 of his last 22 shot attempts.

One has to wonder just how many points the Pacers would have scored had Toronto’s best defender not been able to play in the state where he went to college. Anunoby at least made things slightly tougher for Haliburton and the rest, including on a key defensive play late. He also had four assists and got a lot of looks in the paint. Anunoby wasn’t really hitting his shots, but there’s no question the Raptors play far better with him on the court.