Siakam stars as Raptors fend off Pelicans in return from all-star break

Pascal Siakam scored 26 points to help the Toronto Raptors fend off the New Orleans Pelicans 115-110 on Thursday as both teams returned from the all-star break.

Jakob Poeltl had a double-double with 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for Toronto (29-31), which had won five of its last six games headed into the break.

O.G. Anuonby scored 12 in his return to the Raptors lineup after a nine-game absence. He had injured his left wrist in a bad fall against Golden State on Jan. 27.

Gary Trent Jr., who returned after missing two games with a calf strain, started at guard and scored 18.

Brandon Ingram led New Orleans (30-30) with 36 points.

Centre Jonas Valanciunas, who began his NBA career in Toronto, had a double-double for the Pelicans with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Precious Achiuwa sank a field goal with 7.1 seconds left in the first to extend Toronto’s lead to 23-19 by the end of the quarter. Siakam and Ingram led with six points apiece.

Siakam sank his second of two free throws in the final seconds of the half as the Raptors built a 54-45 lead by the intermission. It was his only point of the second quarter as Scottie Barnes, Poeltl, Trent and Anunoby led Toronto’s offence in the frame.

Barnes and Trent had eight points apiece in the quarter, Poeltl added seven, and Anunoby five.

The Raptors led by as many as 15 in the third, with Siakam finding his scoring touch. He had 17 points in the quarter.

Boucher takes flight

Toronto forward Chris Boucher, from Montreal, brought the sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd of 19,800 to its feet with a one-handed jam on a breakaway with 5.5 seconds left in the frame.

C.J. McCollum drilled an 18-foot jumper to cut Toronto’s lead to eight with 8:30 left to play.

Siakam answered with a layup, before Ingram hit a three-pointer, forcing Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to call a time out with 6:49 on the clock.

Valanciunas made one of his free throws when play resumed to make it 100-94. After a Pelicans turnover, Poeltl reeled off five points on a field goal, a free throw, and another jumper for an 11-point lead and a New Orleans time out.

Poeltl continued to dominate the paint, scoring another jumper from up close and then blocking Herbert Jones at the other end. McCollum replied with a floating jump shot.

Anunoby stole an Ingram pass with 2:40 left to play and drove to the net, getting a rousing ovation for his dunk and giving the Raptors a 111-101 lead. He had two steals on the night and his 2.1 steals per game led the NBA heading into Thursday’s game.

Ingram made two free throws and a three-pointer to cut that lead to just five points. He then hit a seven-foot shot to make it 111-108 with just 1:13 to play.

He fouled Poeltl on the next possession, however, with the Raptors big man making a free throw.

Ingram made up for that with a 19-foot pull-up jumper to narrow Toronto’s lead to 112-110 with 33.1 seconds left. But Trent drilled a three-pointer 20 seconds later for Toronto and the final score of the game.

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