Siakam scores 29, Raptors beat Pelicans for 6th straight win
TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Fred VanVleet scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors extended their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 105-101 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
OG Anunoby scored 12 points as the Raptors won their fifth straight and 10th of 12 at home. Toronto (20-17) is three games above .500 for the first time since opening the season 6-3.
“I feel like we’re getting better, we’re getting better as a team,” Siakam said. “Obviously it’s translating to wins right now.”
Siakam, who missed the first 10 games of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, matched season-highs with three made 3-pointers and 10 made free throws.
“He’s being more aggressive and taking it at people more than he did when he first came back,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.
Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points and 17 rebounds, and Brandon Ingram scored 22 points for the Pelicans, who have lost four of five.
“We stayed in the game till the last second,” Valanciunas said. “We were right there. It’s not an excuse, but we’ve got to do better to win those games. It hurts a lot just losing by three or four points.”
Herbert Jones scored 13 points and Devonte’ Graham and Nickeil Alexander-Walker each had 11 for New Orleans.
Pelicans coach Willie Green said he was disappointed his team allowed Toronto 15 offensive rebounds, leading to a 24-6 edge in second-chance points.
“We were right there, we had opportunities to win the game,” Green said. “We did a lot of good things to put ourselves in that position. Down the stretch, we just have to have a mindset to know when shots go up, we’ve got to turn and hit bodies. We didn’t do a great job of that.”
Pelicans guard Josh Hart did not make the trip to Toronto. Garrett Temple replaced Hart in the starting lineup.
Toronto guard Gary Trent Jr. was scratched because of a sore left ankle. Khem Birch started for the Raptors.
Valanciunas scored in the paint to tie it at 93-93 with four minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. After a timeout, VanVleet hit a tiebreaking 3, but Graham and Jones answered with back-to-back 3-pointers for the Pelicans.
VanVleet responded with a deep 3 with the shot clock winding down. After Siakam forced a steal, VanVleet connected from long distance again to give Toronto a 102-99 lead with 1:32 remaining.
“That’s what VanVleet has been doing lately,” Green said.
VanVleet, who recorded his first career triple-double in Friday’s win over Utah, has scored 30 or more points six times in his past eight games.
Ingram’s driving layup made it a one-point game, but Chris Boucher tipped in Birch’s missed shot to restore the three-point lead and then grabbed the rebound on Temple’s missed 3.
Birch made one of two at the line with 5.3 seconds left to extend Toronto’s lead. The Raptors had made all 19 free throw attempts before Birch missed his second shot.
Graham missed a 3 on New Orleans’ final possession.
Toronto led 27-26 after one and 49-48 at halftime. Siakam scored 13 points in the third, but the Pelicans closed the quarter with an 8-0 run. The Raptors took a 79-77 lead to the fourth.
Drafted fifth overall by the Raptors in 2011, Valanciunas played in Toronto for the first time since Dec. 9, 2018. After missing time because of a left thumb injury, Valanciunas was traded to Memphis on Feb. 7, 2019.
“I do miss it,” Valanciunas said of his six-plus seasons in Canada. “It’s really good to see familiar faces.”
Siakam, who is from Cameroon, was asked after the game about his country’s 2-1 victory over Burkina Faso Sunday in the opening match of soccer’s Africa Cup of Nations. Speaking in French, an excited Siakam proudly showed off a bracelet in Cameroon colors. The biennial tournament is being held in five cities across Cameroon.
Pelicans: Signed F Gary Clark to a two-way contract and waived G Jared Harper. … G Tomas Satoransky (health and safety protocols) missed his fourth straight game.
Raptors: F Yuta Watanabe (health and safety protocols) missed his fourth straight game. … Siakam went 10 for 10 at the free throw line. He finished with seven assists.
Pelicans: Host Minnesota on Tuesday.
Raptors: Host Phoenix on Tuesday.
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