The Toronto Raptors remain perfect at home.
Led by Kyle Lowry, who scored a team-high 24 points, the Raptors defeated the Sacramento Kings by a final score of 124-120. Lowry was one of six Raptors to score double figures in the win, the others being Pascal Siakam (23), Serge Ibaka (21), OG Anunoby (18), Fred VanVleet (12) and Marc Gasol (12).
The Raptors led for almost the entire game, but the Kings kept it close until the end thanks to some hot 3-point shooting. They went 20-for-44 from the perimeter in the loss, marking a new season-high in makes for Sacramento. Bogdan Bogdanovic was 6-for-11 from the 3-point line, while Buddy Hield went 5-for-7.
For more on the game, here are some takeaways...
A smarter Pascal Siakam
Siakam's foul trouble became a topic of conversation after he fouled out of Toronto's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks last week. At practice on Wednesday, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse put it bluntly: "He hasn't been really smart, if you want me to be honest."
In addition to the Bucks game, Siakam fouled out of Toronto's season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. He picked up five fouls against both the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls as well, resulting in Siakam averaging 4.5 fouls per game entering Thursday's game against the Kings.
That was the fourth-highest rate in the league, behind only Dillon Brooks (4.8), Jaren Jackson Jr. (4.6) and Jaxson Hayes (4.5).
For that reason, it was encouraging that Siakam's first foul of the game didn't come until the opening seconds of the third quarter. That was Siakam's only foul of the game, paving the way for him to play 37 minutes, his second-highest total of the season.
Siakam had a quiet first half, but he came alive in the third quarter once again when he scored 11 of his 23 points. He added 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals to his stat line for another solid all-around game.
A new side to OG Anunoby
When we talk about Anunoby, it's usually because of his 3-point shooting or defence. But against the Kings, it was his passing that stood out more than anything.
Anunoby's career-high for assists in a game was four. He surpassed that total by dishing out five assists, three of which came in the first quarter alone. They weren't just a case of him making the extra pass either. This one to set Gasol up for a dunk was particularly impressive:
🚨 Big Spain dunk alert 🚨 pic.twitter.com/eHIcnt78Dz- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 7, 2019
Anunoby has been driving a lot more frequently this season, but almost all of his drives have ended with him taking the shot. According to Second Spectrum, Anunoby had made a pass on 30.4 percent of his drives entering Thursday's game. Of players on the Raptors who have made a pass on at least one drive so far this season, that was the lowest rate on the team.
That's not to say Anunoby is selfish or anything. It's about him unlocking parts of his game that we haven't seen before.
He's been doing quite a lot of that lately:
Over his last 6 games, OG Anunoby has set new career-highs in blocks (4 @ CHI), steals (5 vs ORL), assists twice (4 @ MIL, 5 and counting tonight vs SAC) and matched his career-high in rebounding 3 times (8 @ BOS, vs ORL, vs DET).- Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 7, 2019
The rest of Anunoby's game was on display against the Kings. He had 18 points on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. He's now made one 3-pointer in eight straight games to open the season, the second-longest streak in his NBA career.
Anunoby also pulled down six rebounds and blocked three shots in 37 minutes of action.
A spark off the bench
Other than Ibaka, Matt Thomas was the only player off the bench to make his presence felt.
Speaking of Ibaka, this was quite the dunk:
Headbutt was 100% pure pic.twitter.com/VHszQBh5wm- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 7, 2019
Anyway, back to Thomas.
Thomas only played 10 minutes, but he scored a quick eight points on 2-for-3 shooting from the perimeter.
Both of those makes came in the fourth quarter to give the Raptors a cushion. The first one put them ahead 100-94 with 10:10 to play in the period. The second stretched their lead to 105-96 with 8:39 to play.
Shooters gotta shoot pic.twitter.com/C9LxxOKQ50- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 7, 2019
Thomas also got after it defensively. He doesn't have the reputation of being a very good defender, but he was solid on that end of the floor.
That's going to be important if/when Thomas gets more minutes.
The rebounding battle
The Raptors have had a tough time keeping opponents off the offensive glass to start the season.
According to NBA.com, they entered Thursday's game giving up league-leading 13.0 offensive rebounds per game. They gave up 12 against the Kings, including two to Cory Joseph, Sacramento's backup point guard, which ... isn't ideal.
Those offensive rebounds helped the Kings score 13 second chance points. For comparison, the Raptors scored two second chance points off of two offensive rebounds.
While it didn't prevent them from getting the win, it's something to monitor moving forward, especially after the Boston Celtics hammered the Raptors on the boards in their win earlier in the season.
Toronto's next game is against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. They then travel to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Monday, followed by the Clippers on Tuesday. They close their road trip with matchups against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday and the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
That's five straight road games, four of which are against Western Conference teams that are hoping to make the playoffs this season.
The Raptors have gotten the season off to as good of a start as anyone could've expected, but the next 10 days are going to be a good test for them.
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