Siakam’s big first quarter extends Raptors streak

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TORONTO – Pascal Siakam scored 21 points in the first quarter on way his way to 33 for the evening as the Toronto Raptors extended their winning streak to five with a 125-114 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Scotiabank Arena Friday.

Raptors all-star Fred VanVleet added 26 points, including 13 in the third quarter alone, and 13 assists in Toronto’s sixth win in their last seven contests.

Hawks point guard Trae Young followed up a 43-point performance in a 124-115 win over the league-leading Phoenix Suns the night before with 22 points.

The Raptors last saw the Hawks on Monday, coming away with a 106-100 win in Atlanta. However, that was a different team than the one Toronto faced off against on Friday as all-star guard Young wasn’t available to play Monday.

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Both Toronto and Atlanta were playing on the second night of back-to-back games and the fatigue between the two sides showed.

Fortunately for the Raptors, the Hawks appeared to run out of gas earlier as Toronto outscored Atlanta 36-27 in the third quarter.

Toronto carried a 96-86 advantage heading into the fourth quarter and, even as it appeared all the basketball Toronto had been playing was catching up to them in the frame, they still managed to fight though and hold on.

Raptors forward OG Anunoby was put onto Young defensively late in the fourth and came up with a couple of big blocks, including one on a three-point attempt, to help Toronto seal the win.

Thanks to a 33-14 run within the last 8:03 of the period, the Raptors jumped out to a 39-28 lead after the first quarter.

Siakam was dominant early on, going 7-for-9 from the floor. He scored 14 of his 21 total as part of a run where the Raptors star forward showcased a full repertoire of offensive moves including turnaround jumpers, hard drives to the rim and even a couple of three-pointers from well beyond the arc.

With Siakam getting some rest to start the second quarter, the Hawks were able to cut an 18-point Toronto lead to just one as the Raptors clung to a 60-59 lead at the half. Siakam finished the first half with 25 points.

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Atlanta outscored Toronto 31-21 in the second quarter as the Raptors cooled off from scorching 68.2 per cent shooting from the first quarter.

Friday’s contest concluded a three-game homestand for the Raptors and a run of games that saw them play four times in five days.

Up next for the Raptors is a long stretch that will see them play eight of their next nine games on the road, beginning with a Monday-evening encounter with the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press





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