Siakam’s three-point touch returns in Raptors win

TORONTO – Even as he struggled from beyond the arc for more than a month, Pascal Siakam always believed his hard work would pay off.

Siakam scored 33 points in his best three-point shooting performance since Nov. 1 as the Toronto Raptors held off the Atlanta Hawks 135-128 on Wednesday. He said that although he always worked at his three-point shot, he never made it his focus because he knew the shots would eventually fall.

“I’m living with whatever happens. I’m at peace with that because I know the process that comes into being at that level and putting the work in every single day,” said Siakam. “You won’t hear me talk about it. I’m not worried about it.

“I’m just continuing to do the things that I do every day.”

Siakam was 5 for 6 from beyond the arc against Atlanta, the first time in 15 games he had more than one three-pointer. He had 11 games in that span where he couldn’t sink any of his three-point attempts, with his last multi-three game coming on Nov. 1 when he went 5 for 8 in a 130-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

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“I’m not mad at the shots that I took. I’m not mad at the mechanics. I’m not mad anything,” he said. “A couple of those in-and-outs go in and it’s a different thing.”

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Siakam pulled down seven rebounds and had seven assists as Toronto (10-14) snapped a four-game skid. The Raptors overtook the Hawks for 10th in the Eastern Conference with the win and will host Atlanta again on Friday.

Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl each had a double-double in the victory. Barnes scored 27 and had 10 rebounds, while Poeltl had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Trae Young had 35 points and tied a season high with 17 assists as Atlanta (9-14) lost its fifth straight. Dejounte Murray and Bogdan Bogdanovic had 20 points apiece, while Clint Capela also had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

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Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic said at practice on Tuesday that he considered tweaking his starting lineup but that his top five players deserved a chance to jell.

Poeltl appreciated that Rajakovic didn’t overreact as Toronto lost six of its past eight games.

“I think we saw that the lineup can definitely work,” said Poeltl. “We had a little tough stretch right there where we couldn’t really figure it out, maybe our confidence was down a little bit, the energy was down a little bit.”

Siakam hit a three-pointer from 23 feet out to give Toronto a one-point lead with 37 seconds left in the half but Murray answered with a three of his own to give Atlanta a 66-64 lead at intermission.

Barnes and point guard Dennis Schroder scored eight points apiece in the third as the Raptors claimed a 103-95 lead. Schroder surpassed 10,000 points over his 10 seasons in the NBA with Atlanta, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and the Raptors.

Toronto led by as many as 10 points in the fourth, but back-to-back three-pointers from Bogdanovic pulled the Hawks to within two with 6:26 left to play.

The Raptors reeled off six straight points after Bogdanovic’s threes, including a thunderous dunk from OG Anunoby that brought the sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd of 19,800 fans to their feet.

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Atlanta couldn’t close that gap for most of the period until Saddiq Bey had a driving dunk, a tip shot, and a free throw in rapid succession.

Murray then hit a three-pointer with 1:14 left to play to pull the Hawks to within six.

After a Raptors timeout, Barnes had a field goal but Capela sank a hook shot on Young’s 17th assist.

Anunoby finished off an alley-oop pass from Siakam with a dunk to keep Toronto up by eight with 36.1 seconds to go. Murray made another three-pointer but Schroder hit two free throws to keep the Raptors ahead by seven with 25 seconds left.

Poeltl was fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound and made his two free throws. Young then had an uncontested layup for the game’s final score.

UP NEXT — Toronto hosts Atlanta again on Friday before welcoming the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

The Hawks travel to Cleveland after Friday’s game to play the Cavaliers on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2023.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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