It wasn't pretty, but the Toronto Raptors got it done.
Led by Pascal Siakam, who scored a game-high 34 points, the Raptors defeated the Atlanta Hawks by a final score of 119-116. Siakam was one of three Raptors to score 20-plus points, the others being Fred VanVleet (25) and Norman Powell (20).
Trae Young was spectacular for the Hawks. He finished with 30 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, giving him his second triple-double of his NBA career. The Hawks also got a boost out of De'Andre Hunter, the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Hunter scored 26 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the 3-point line, a couple of which came down the stretch to keep the Hawks in the game.
De'Andre Hunter we are not worthy 😱 pic.twitter.com/P3ielB9B3z- Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) November 24, 2019
For more on the game, here are some takeaways...
Pascal Siakam flips the switch
The first half of this game belonged to the Hawks. Led by Young, who almost had a triple-double after two quarters of play with 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, Atlanta entered the break with a 61-52 lead.
Then Siakam flipped the switch.
Siakam got the Raptors going in the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers in the opening minute of the frame - both of which came from the wing, not the corner - to cut Atlanta's lead to five points.
Spicy BUCK3TS pic.twitter.com/t9Hx6qi7em- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 24, 2019
He then hit a smooth
Siakam then made a smooth midrange pull-up over Jabari Parker a few minutes later to give him eight quick points in the quarter.
Tell 'em, Jacko pic.twitter.com/coZgJymSnc- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 24, 2019
Siakam had neither of those shots in his arsenal last season. As I wrote before the game, he has already made more above-the-break and pull-up 3s this season than he did all of last season. He's also made almost as many midrange jumpers as he did all of last season. The combination gives him an answer to the only game plan that gave him problems last season.
Siakam continued his strong play until the final buzzer, finishing with 34 points on 11-for-18 shooting from the field, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. 22 of his 34 points came in the second half, when the Raptors outscored the Hawks 67-55.
Chris Boucher provides a spark off the bench
Boucher wasn't a part of the rotation prior to Serge Ibaka's injury. Through the first games seven games of the season, he combined to score four points while averaging only 4.5 minutes per game.
Boucher didn't even look great in the game Ibaka went down with the injury - he scored five points on 1-for-6 shooting in his first real minutes of the season - but he's been excellent since. He tied his career-high with 15 points in Toronto's come-from-behind win against the Los Angeles Lakers. He then scored 13 points against the LA Clippers the next night, going 3-for-5 from the 3-point line.
Boucher scored in single digits against both the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, but he recorded back-to-back double-doubles against the Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic.
Against the Hawks, Boucher was Toronto's fourth-leading scorer with 13 points. He added eight rebounds to his stat line as well.
.@chrisboucher | 6 Mins, 9 Pts, 3 Reb pic.twitter.com/8YckEL6OIw- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 24, 2019
It'll be interesting to see what Boucher's role is when Ibaka returns, which could be soon considering Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said earlier in the week that he is ahead of schedule and he was listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. Ibaka is obviously the better player, but Boucher has likely earned himself more minutes moving forward with how he's played in Ibaka's absence.
Losing streak continues for Hawks
It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Hawks.
Following their win over the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 12, the Hawks have lost six straight games. Not only that, all but two of their recent losses have been decided by double figures. Atlanta's losing streak started with a 16-point loss to the Phoenix Suns. It then lost by 49 points to the LA Clippers and 21 points to the Los Angeles Lakers, followed by an eight-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, a 25-point loss to the Detroit Pistons and, most recently, a three-point loss to the Raptors.
It doesn't help that the Hawks have been without John Collins since the fifth game of the season, as he's currently serving a 25-game suspension for violating the NBA's Anti-Drug Program. Collins led the team in both scoring (19.5) and rebounding (9.8) last season and received some buzz for the All-Star Game.
The Hawks have also been dealing with injuries Kevin Huerter, who started at in 59 games at shooting guard last season, and Cam Reddish, whom the franchise selected with the pick it acquired in the Luka Doncic trade.
The Hawks put up a much better fight against the Raptors, but they now have a 4-12 record on the season, tying them with the New York Knicks for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
They can only hope things will get better once they get back to full strength.
The Raptors are back in action on Tuesday, when they return to Toronto for a matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers. It'll be the first meeting between the two teams since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when ... well, you know.
#1: The #KiaTopPlay of the 2018-19 season... @kawhileonard advances the @Raptors to the ECF with this GAME 7 GAME-WINNER! #BestOfNBA pic.twitter.com/ad5fvXKS8Q- NBA (@NBA) August 31, 2019
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