Kawhi Leonard sits out 3rd straight game as Toronto Raptors beat Sacramento Kings 120-105
Six Raptors scored double figures on Tuesday as Toronto downed the Sacramento Kings 120-105. Thus extending their season-high home winning streak to 10 games.
The win marked the third straight game Leonard has missed for rest purposes. Toronto (36-13) has won all three. Taking advantage of three Western Conference teams — Phoenix, Memphis and the Kings — currently out of the playoff picture.
In all, Leonard has sat out 13 games this season with Toronto 11-2 in his absence.
With Jonas Valanciunas recovering from thumb surgery and OG Anunoby away for personal reasons, there are minutes available. Head coach Nick Nurse dipped deep into his bench Tuesday, using 11 different players in a scrappy first half.
Leonard and Anunoby are scheduled to sit out Wednesday’s game in Indiana but will be back for Friday’s contest in Houston.
On Tuesday, the Raptors started Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka.
“It will be interesting to see how it filters out,” Nurse said. “This is a chance for these guys, man. I’m going to play the guys that are rolling and ready to play. So this is a chance for all these guys to kind of stake a claim on the position while there are minutes to be had.”
Whatever happens, Nurse has options. And he undoubtedly is looking forward to having his top guns rolling when the playoffs come. Leonard and Lowry have played in just 25 games together this season.
It doesn’t seem to be a problem. The Raptors have now won eight of their last nine and are 9-2 in January.
Toronto’s franchise record for consecutive home wins is 12. The Raptors play the next three games on the road before returning to face Milwaukee and the Clippers.
Toronto were the fourth stop of a season-long six game road trip for Sacramento. Sacramento have dropped four straight against Toronto.
Lowry and VanVleet, two point guards who have battled through some physical ailments this season, had 19 points apiece and combined for 16 assists.
VanVleet did it early while Lowry stepped up late.
VanVleet, who shot 1 for 8 in Saturday’s win over Memphis, scored 11 points in the first quarter. Lowry had 11 in the fourth quarter.
“I think he looked a little bit more like himself here tonight,” Nurse said of Lowry who missed six games after Christmas due to lower back pain.
VanVleet has his own issues. While he continues to have his lower back wrapped while on the bench, he says he is well enough to play.
“It’s been up and down,” he said of his health. “There’s days where I feel great, there’s days where I feel like I’ve been hit by a car. That’s the NBA. At this point, nobody’s really 100 per cent.”
Siakam had 18 points while Ibaka added 15 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. C.J. Miles had a season-high 15 for Toronto.
The Raptors made 16 three-pomakes to seven for Sacramento. Toronto is 17-4 this season when they make 12 or more three-pointers a game.
A 9-0 Kings run, during which Toronto missed five straight shots and turned the ball over, cooled the Raptors late in the first quarter and Sacramento led 34-29 going into the second quarter.
The Raptors came out firing in the second quarter with Miles triggering an 8-0 run with a pair of three-pointers as Toronto pulled ahead. The Raptors held the Kings to 22 points in the second quarter, leading by as many as seven before heading to the locker-room up 60-56.
Toronto led 73-64 only to see Sacramento reel off nine straight points to tie the game with 3:35 remaining in the third. The Raptors answered with a 15-5 run of their own and led 88-78 after three quarters, with the Kings restricted to another 22-points quarter.