It appears scoring feels pretty, pretty good.
When Pascal Siakam is at his best he’s attacking the rim and playing with joy. It was the thing missing from his game for so long late last season and the reason the Toronto Raptors struggled so mightily in the NBA’s Orlando Bubble. He got away from attacking and, more important to his mental health, he stopped playing with joy.
On Sunday, the old Siakam reappeared. He repeatedly attacked the rim against the Orlando Magic’s loose interior defence and when he found success, he even cracked a smile a few times. His 30 point came exclusively inside the 3-point arc and led the Raptors to a 115-102 victory in Tampa.
“For me, I think the biggest part is continuing to work on my body and continuing to work on my game,” Siakam said. “Over the past weeks, I haven’t been feeling well, little injuries here and there. Continue to just get with [the Raptors medical team] every day, taking care of my body, and lifting, and doing those things that are going to help my body continue to feel good. I think that’s what I’ve been focusing on over the past week. I think it makes me feel good that my body feels good.”
Siakam has almost entirely moved away from the 3-point shot lately. He came into the night shooting 25% from behind the arc, but instead of continuing to chuck away, he’s almost completely stopped shooting.
“I think [Siakam’s shooting] will probably work their way back in but I think it’s a conscious effort on his part, our part to get him going to the basket and get him a little bit more composed at the basket,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I think you can see him, the times that he gets in there, takes his time, gets to two feet, gets to that right-hand jump hook or something, those are going in.”
On Sunday he attempted just two 3-pointer, a head-check 3-pointer he missed in the second half, and then another one late in the fourth.
The highlight of his night came against Aaron Gordon when he put the two-time dunk contest runner-up on a poster in the third quarter.
It wasn’t just the Pascal Siakam show, though. The Raptors got big contributions off the bench including 12 points from DeAndre’ Bembry and 11 from Yuta Watanabe.
“Yeah, I think in those roles, it’s play hard and limit mistakes,” Nurse said. “[Yuta] just doesn’t make many mistakes and he just keeps hustling, he even hustled so hard… it looked like [Nikola] Vucevic had a layup at the rim and Yuta came flying in there and blocked it and that’s just effort, it’s not anything but that.”
It was the fourth straight game in which Watanabe scored played double-digit minutes.
Kyle Lowry Gets Last Laugh vs. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon seemed to have six months’ worth of pent-up anger bottled up waiting to enact revenge on Kyle Lowry for what he thought was a disty play from their August meeting last season. He waited until the second quarter then seemed to body check Lowry, sending the Raptors’ leader to the floor before being assessed a foul.
Lowry certainly wasn’t pleased, but he popped back up and finished the night with 12 points with 14 assists and the victory on Sunday.
Terence Davis Steps up With OG Anunoby & Norman Powell Out
Toronto got a clutch performance from sophomore Terence Davis who stepped up to score 12 points filling in for OG Anunoby and Norman Powell who were out due to injuries. It sounds like it’ll be another few games before Anunoby is back and until Powell comes back Davis’ playing time should stay up.
Up Next: Orlando Magic
The Raptors will make the trip back down I-4 for a rematch with the Magic in Orlando on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.