Siakam sinks winning bucket on the buzzer to secure the win for Raptors
After collecting his 5,000th career assist on the night, Kyle Lowry got the ball. But Pascal Siakam got the win.
With Kawhi Leonard resting for the second game of a back-to-back, Toronto coach Nick Nurse elected to put the ball in Siakam’s hands with 13 seconds left in a 109-109 tie with the Phoenix Suns.
The six-foot nine forward from Cameroon paused before blowing past first Mikal Bridges and then Deandre Ayton for the winning layup with no time remaining.
“He made a great move and finished it off,” Nurse said after the 111-109 victory Thursday.
“We call him P-Skills for a reason,” added C.J. Miles. “He’s got a lot of skills. There’s a lot of things he can do with the basketball.”
A smiling Siakam, who also goes by Spicy P, said he appreciated the fact that his team entrusted him with the ball with the game on the line.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just had to make sure that I took the last shot,” he said.
Lowry had 16 points and eight assists. He and Serge Ibaka, who finished with 22 points, turned it on in the fourth quarter but the Suns refused to go away.
The final seconds helped erase memories of an early 16-point lead that Toronto squandered.
After a Devin Booker three-pointer gave the Suns a 107-105 lead, Siakam sank two free throws to tie it with 1:16 remaining. A Raptors defensive stop and Ibaka hook shot made it 109-107 Toronto.
Kelly Oubre Jr., missed his shot but an Ibaka foul sent Bridges to the line with 13 seconds left. He made both.
A Toronto timeout set the stage for Siakam’s heroics. He finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“Hell of a shot,” said Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov.
Toronto (34-13) was without Leonard (rest), Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) and OG Anunoby (personal).
Six Raptors finished in double figures as Toronto bounced back from a 117-108 loss in Boston on Wednesday.
That loss snapped the Raptors’ five-game win streak. But they kept another run going as they notched their eighth straight win at home since losing a 104-99 decision to Milwaukee on Dec. 9.
Booker led Phoenix (11-35) with 30 points, his ninth 30-point game of the season.
After leading by as much as 16 in the second quarter, Toronto was outscored 29-20 in the third and went into the final quarter trailing 78-77. The Raptors shot 7-for-22 in the third.
Lowry had originally been ruled out of the game for rest purposes but was pronounced fit to play before tipoff. Lowry, who only recently came back from a sore back, spent his time on the bench lying on his back rather than in a seat.
He came into the game needing six assists to reach 5,000 for his career. He collected No. 6 in the fourth quarter, feeding Ibaka for a bucket.
“I would have never thought I would have gotten there at the start of my career,” said the 32-year-old Lowry, who is in his 13th NBA season. “I’ll look back on this when I retire. For now, it’s a great day, a great team win for us.”
The only other active players to have reached that milestone are Chris Paul, LeBron James, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondon, Russell Westbrook, Dwayne Wade, John Wall, former Raptor Jose Calderon and Raymond Felton.
Miles had been listed as questionable with a sore hip but was able to play. He finished with a season-high 13 points.
Toronto started Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, Siakam and Ibaka, a lineup that had gone 4-0 this season. The Raptors have used 14 different starting lineups this season, compared to 12 all last season.
The Raptors have routinely sat Leonard, who scored 33 points against Boston, for one half of back-to-back games.
Toronto has not lost on consecutive days since Dec. 26-27, 2017 (at Dallas and Oklahoma City). Since then it has split nine back-to-back sets and swept nine.
The Raptors only have three more scheduled back-to-backs left, fewest in the NBA.
Furthermore, Patrick McCaw, signed a free agent Jan. 10, made his Raptors debut off the bench in the second quarter. He did not score in six minutes.
It was the Raptors’ 12th annual Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation night with more than 300 members of the military and their families in attendance. A pre-game presentation recognized Lieut.-Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier, commander of the Canadian Army.