Siakam, Raptors beat Hornets 116-101 for 6th straight win
- Irving reportedly asks Nets for trade
- Suns open challenging trip in Boston
- Healthy Bucks starting to regain peak
- Wolves' Edwards shrugs off All-Star snub
- All-Star Sabonis set for Indiana return
By STEVE REED
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Toronto Raptors keep on rolling, and the Charlotte Hornets keep on floundering.
Pascal Siakam had 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and the Raptors defeated the Hornets 116-101 on Monday night for their sixth straight win.
Gary Trent Jr. scored 24 points, and Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby each had 20 points for the Raptors, who began a stretch of eight of nine games on the road with a convincing win. Scottie Barnes added 15 points as the Raptors' starters accounted for all but 13 points.
Siakam, the NBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week, set the tone in the first half, shooting 6 of 9 from the floor for 14 points with six rebounds and five assists as the Raptors opened a 23-point lead.
"It has been a rough couple of years, but I feel healthy right now," Siakam said. "My shoulder is feeling better, my body is feeling good. So just physically and mentally being in a good place."
Miles Bridges scored 25 points to lead the Hornets, who lost their fifth consecutive game. Charlotte struggled through yet another poor offensive performance, shooting 41.1% from the field and 22.5% from 3-point range.
LaMelo Ball, named as an All-Star game replacement a few hours before the game, finished with 15 points and nine assists for the Hornets.
Charlotte (28-27) did battle back to cut the lead to three in the third quarter after getting a big boost from Terry Rozier, who had 20 points, and P.J. Washington. But the Hornets ran out of firepower as their poor outside shooting caught up with them.
"We just have to start finding that rhythm offensively," Hornets coach James Borrego said. "The 3-ball has dried up obviously, but that is okay. It will come back to us. Until then we have to find our offense through our defense."
The win moved the Raptors (29-23) into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the slumping Brooklyn Nets, who have lost eight straight.
Siakam is a big reason for the Raptors' surge.
He said he's enjoyed playing some point guard because it's given him a different understanding of the game, and also has helped him to develop a rhythm. And recently, he's brought back what coach Nick Nurse called his "signature spin move."
"For a while there it just seemed like it didn't seem to be a go-to move for him anymore," Nurse said. "I think a lot of it now has to do with mindset, energy and the spacing on the floor."
That included one in the second quarter when Siakam took Bridges off the dribble and found himself at the basket in a flash for an easy, uncontested score.
"There are some games where I know the spin move is going to be there, and some games it won't," Siakam said.
Charlotte struggled throughout with the Raptors' length, turning the ball over nine times in the first half, leading to 14 Toronto points.
HAYWARD INJURES ANKLE
The struggling Hornets, who were without Cody Martin and James Bouknight due to injuries, lost Gordon Hayward for the game after he sprained his left ankle in the first quarter.
Hayward had struggled since he missed six games while in COVID-19 protocols, making just 3 of 23 shots from the field. But, coach James Borrego was counting on him to help a young team break out of a slump.
Bouknight was listed as out with a sprained wrist just two days after he stood up and confronted Borrego on the bench - and was later escorted to the locker room by an assistant coach. Borrego downplayed the incident before the game, saying that "we're in a good place" with Bouknight.
Toronto entered the game averaging 118 points during their five-game winning streak, and didn't miss a beat against the Hornets. It marked the 10th straight game the Raptors have scored at least 100 points.
Raptors: Shot 42.9% (15 of 35) from 3-point range. ... Made just 19 of 29 free throws.
Hornets: Outscored the Raptors 58-48 in the paint. ... Kelly Oubre was 0 for 8 from long distance, but had 17 points. ... Fell to 0-3 on their four-game homestand.
Raptors: At Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
Hornets: Host Bulls on Wednesday night.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Updated February 7, 2022