Execution: It wasn’t pretty, but the Raptors managed to complete a perfect 4–0 road trip on the west coast for the first time in franchise history. The Raptors started out sloppy with six turnovers in the first quarter, but gradually built enough of a lead to keep the Kings at an safe distance throughout the game.
Energetic: The Kings gave the road-weary Raptors trouble with how aggressive they were on defense. Pressing full-court never works at the NBA level, but the Kings did find success in the third quarter when they bodied up on the ball and made it impossible to dribble.
Steady: Kawhi Leonard had the answer each time the Kings made it close. Leonard shut the door on a Kings comeback in the third by driving down the lane for a ferocious dunk, before following that up with a pull-up jumper and a free throw. Leonard added a triple and a fadeaway jumper in the fourth to seal the win.
Clutch: This is the Raptors’ formula for success in the fourth quarter. Leonard will isolate — preferably after getting switched onto a big man — and consistently get a good shot. The rest of the team will play lockdown defense, which usually includes Lowry taking a charge out of nowhere.
Growth: The Raptors have earmarked a handful of possessions in every game to allow Pascal Siakam to work his acrobatic layups. That’s not only good for his continued development in the long run, but it’s also just entertaining to watch as Siakam is always so unpredictable.
Slippery: Siakam torched the Kings in the second quarter with a spurt where he spun over his left shoulder for a layup, drove baseline and fooled Marvin Bagley with an up-and-under before completing the and-one, then drew free throws on the subsequent possession by spinning his way past Nemanja Bjelica.
Torment: Siakam continued to bully Bjelica in the third quarter. He drew two fouls on back-to-back drives, the second of which prompted Bjelica to slam the ball into the court in disgust which earned him a technical. Lowry then made sure to call an isolation on the next play where Siakam spun past Bjelica for yet another bucket.
Possessions: The Raptors grabbed a season-high 53 rebounds and were uncharacteristically solid on the defensive glass. Credit the wings for helping out on the boards, as the Raptors are usually susceptible to athletic teams who can challenge for offensive rebounds.
Memories: Retired San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher joined the Raptors broadcast and was effusive in his praise for his former player in Leonard: “All he wants to do is win. He doesn’t caught up with stats, and shots, or points. He just wants to win. I’ve never had a guy who works harder on skill building than he does.”
Miscellaneous: Siakam got extended run with the second unit due to injuries to Norman Powell (shoulder) and CJ Miles (hip) … OG Anunoby continues to blossom as a defender … Delon Wright needs to take the open three more often instead of always looking to drive.
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