Lowry, Siakam lead Raptors in win against Lakers
Playing under the bright lights of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Kyle Lowry’s performance on Sunday night was anything but lowkey. Returning to the court after a one-game absence for rest, Lowry exploded for a season-high 37 points to go with 11 assists in a 121-114 road win against the Los Angeles Lakers. He wasn’t alone in lighting up the scoreboard either. Pascal Siakam had a monster game of his own, finishing with 39 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots on 15-for-26 field goals.
Via the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time in franchise history that two Raptors teammates finished with 35+-point double-doubles in the same game.
“Those two guys played great,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “They were really awesome. Pretty electrifying.”
Los Angeles led Toronto by six, 38-32, after the opening quarter. The Lakers lead didn’t last for long though, as the Raptors quickly took control in the second quarter, outscoring L.A. 40-21 in the frame to take a 13-point lead into the halftime break. They wouldn’t trail again.
After a narrow 106-102 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday, it was a relief to take the lead early and not give it up late.
“The first thing I did this morning was watch the last five minutes of the game offensively last night,” Nurse said. “It was a lot of the same shots, last night and tonight, a lot more of them seemed to bounce around and go in tonight.
“Looking back on this road trip, we’ve had 11 out of 12 really good quarters,” Nurse continued. “I think we’re getting to the shootaround floor, the practice floor and the film room longer and more consistently and we’re getting a little more organized and it’s showing. We’ve run out of gas a few times here and there, but tonight we were able to play the full 48.”
Siakam’s all-around game was fantastic, but there was one element that stood out.
“I think he was super decisive tonight,” Nurse said. “He obviously had it going big time. I think he did things quickly tonight. When he caught the ball out of the screen-and-roll he just went up and shot it. When the ball swung around to him on the three he just shot it… he was decisive. He started feeling it. Every little floater, all those things were good.”
The natural chemistry between Lowry and Siakam was key in Sunday’s victory. Speaking to the media after the game, Lowry explained that starting the game with confidence can make all the difference.
“With Pascal, the biggest thing is getting into a rhythm,” Lowry said. “Making threes, making jump shots. When P is making jump shots, it just opens the whole floor up for him. That just gives him confidence.”
Siakam has witnessed plenty of Lowry's game-changing and tone-setting performances, but it doesn’t ever get old.
“He was incredible tonight,” Siakam said. “Controlling the game, putting everyone in position. When he’s rolling and making shots, it makes it easy for us too. We already know his passing ability. For me, it's just continuing to work and seeing how we play together and trying to do different things on the floor. I talk to him, obviously, he’s a more talkative person than I am, but I always try to say things here and there and he lets me know [what he’s seeing], too.”
Getting back into the winning column is always good. Getting to have fun in a win on the road is even better. In a season that has had its own set of challenges that are wholly unique to this NBA season, and even more specifically, this Toronto Raptors season, these moments mean even more.
“I said at halftime, ‘No matter what happens the rest of this game, let’s have fun,’” Lowry said. “I think that’s one thing, we can always rally around each other. We can have fun. This game is a game of joy and fun and when you’re having fun, things like [that win] happen. We just went out there and we literally just had fun tonight.”
Through the ups and downs, finding joy in the process is crucial. There is a lightness that accompanies the team when players are having fun. That lightness that was on full display in Sunday’s victory. Though Fred VanVleet (injury recovery), OG Anunoby (calf), Chris Boucher (knee) Gary Trent Jr. (leg contusion) and Paul Watson (knee) were sidelined for the game, every player and staff member on Toronto’s bench enjoyed Sunday’s victory.
The Raptors will remain in Los Angeles where they’ll face the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. Until then, whether at practice, shootaround, or an off-day round of golf, they will continue to follow Lowry’s lead.