Pascal Siakam leads Raptors past Hornets 124-114 for Toronto's third straight win

TORONTO — Pascal Siakam led all scorers with 35 points and also pulled down seven rebounds as the Toronto Raptors beat the Charlotte Hornets 124-114 on Thursday.

It was the 50th time that Siakam has scored 30 or more points in his career.

Scottie Barnes added 21 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists as Toronto (19-23) won its third straight game, its longest such streak of the season. Gary Trent Jr. scored 19.

LaMelo Ball led Charlotte (11-32) with 32 points and seven assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Terry Rozier added 21 points, while Mason Plumlee had a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double as the Hornets lost their third in a row.

It was the second consecutive game at Scotiabank Arena between the two teams.

Toronto made a season-high 20 three-pointers in 44 attempts on Tuesday night as the Raptors beat Charlotte 132-120.

That hot shooting continued on Thursday, with Toronto draining 5-of-8 three-point attempts in the first quarter to take a 38-29 lead. Siakam and Anunoby led all scorers with 12 points apiece after one period.

Siakam drained a 28-foot three-pointer with 11.1 seconds left in the half to give the Raptors a 69-55 lead at intermission. It was his third of the game and improved Toronto's shooting from range to 47.1 per cent (8 for 17).

Forward Precious Achiuwa made one of two free throws at the other end to give Toronto a 97-88 lead heading into the final quarter.

The Hornets challenged the Raptors in the fourth, forcing Toronto head coach Nick Nurse to keep his starters in the game for most of the quarter.

Neither team could score on several possessions before Ball drove to the net for a layup and to pull the Hornets to within nine with 8:45 on the clock.

Plumlee had a two-handed dunk to cut the Raptors lead to 103-96 and force Toronto to call a timeout of their own to regroup.

Fred VanVleet's layup extended Toronto's lead to 105-96 and then Barnes followed it up with a layup of his own. Jalen McDaniels replied with a deep three that bounced around the rim before falling.

A Siakam jump shot from 21 feet out gave him 30 points on the night and pushed the Raptors' lead back to double digits. After a Charlotte timeout, P.J. Washington sank a hook shot to make it 109-101.

Plumlee's errant pass with four minutes remaining led to a Toronto breakaway led by Siakam, who got fouled. He made two free throws and then dunked following a Hornets turnover to make it 113-103.

Barnes made one of his two free throws before Toronto's smothering frontcourt defence created another turnover. The Raptors couldn't capitalize on the possession and Washington drilled a three-pointer with 2:21 left to play.

Plumlee was fouled as he made a putback layup, making his one free throw to cut the Raptors' lead down to 114-109.

VanVleet's three from the corner brought the crowd to its feet with 48.5 seconds left, giving Toronto an eight-point lead, and forcing another Hornets' timeout.

Trent made a pair of free throws for Toronto with 39 seconds left to play. Ball made two free throws of his own, then Barnes sank two more from the line to make it 121-110.

Plumlee got a layup with 17 seconds left on the clock and on the next Raptors possession, Siakam was fouled again. As fans headed to the exits, he made both free throws. Ball was fouled by Barnes at half-court, and he drained both free throws.

Trent hit two more free throws for the final score of the game.

BACK-TO-BACKS — Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said he likes playing two consecutive games in the same city because he thinks it's easier on his players.

"A four-game trip like this, instead of being four flights, four 1:30 a.m. landings, you get to be here for a couple of days," said Clifford pre-game. "I think it makes a big difference for everybody rest wise."

PASCAL ALL-STAR — Siakam is sixth among Eastern Conference forwards in NBA all-star balloting after the second round of fan returns. The NBA announced the results of the latest balloting earlier Thursday. Siakam has 510,192 votes, behind Brooklyn's Kevin Durant (4.5 million), Milwaukee's Giannias Antetokounmpo (4.4M), Boston's Jayson Tatum (3.2M), Philadlephia's Joel Embiid (3.2M), and Miami's Jimmy Butler (688K).

UP NEXT — The Raptors host the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night. Toronto beat Atlanta 139-109 in the two teams' last meeting at Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 31, but the Hawks earned a 124-122 overtime victory on Nov. 19 when they last met.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press