2 studs and 1 dud from unusual Raptors win against Hornets

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 25: LaMelo Ball #2 of the Charlotte Hornets goes to the net against Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 25: LaMelo Ball #2 of the Charlotte Hornets goes to the net against Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors entered their matchup against LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets without the services of Fred VanVleet or Scottie Barnes due to knee and wrist soreness. That left names like Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa to contend with the mighty Charlotte offense.

The Raptors unveiled a very weird lineup in this contest, using Siakam to initiate the offense and act as a de facto point guard. They feasted on one of the worst defenses in the league and pummeled the Hornets into the ground early on.

Despite a brief rally in the third quarter, the Raptors were in cruise control for most of this game, putting together one of their finest offensive performances of the season in a 125-113 win. Toronto moved back above the .500 mark at 23-22 with this victory.

Only one or two players can claim to have played below their normal capabilities today. With bench players like Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton supplementing the stars and Toronto’s offense clicking like it’s never clicked before, this is one of the best showings this team has put up all year long.

170. 125. 81. Final. 113

Pascal Siakam was the driving force for the Toronto Raptors.

Siakam was in charge of running the offense tonight, meaning that a 6-9, 230-pound power forward was going to be responsible for getting the perimeter attack generated. Siakam managed to check that box while dominating the glass and showing off his amazing passing skills.

Siakam finished one rebound shy of a triple-double in this game, totaling 24 points to go along with nine boards and 12 assists. You can count the number of big men who could do what he did in this game. Siakam’s All-Star case just keeps getting louder.

Trent had one of his best games in a Raptors uniform in this contest, as he was dynamic off the dribble and lethal from 3-point range. Trent managed 32 points on 11-20 shooting while defending some of the more explosive young guards in the East with a fair degree of success.

Trent’s shooting has been a mixed bag of late considering how volatile his shot selection can be, but he’s already proven he can be as deadly as anyone on this team when he gets into a groove.

Precious Achiuwa didn’t have a great game for the Toronto Raptors.

It was up to Achiuwa and Chris Boucher to secure the paint. Boucher was his usual self, as he was making some 3s on offense and was surprisingly robust on defense. Achiuwa was a non-factor for most of this game.

Achiuwa’s nine points in seven rebounds in 25 minutes might not look bad, but he was being picked on relentlessly early in the second half when the Hornets made a brief run back into the ballgame. One outlier 3-pointer and some high-percentage dunks accounted for most of his scoring.

Achiuwa did get just a bit lucky with the opponent tonight, as he took on a Charlotte team that was starting Mason Plumlee and saw PJ Washington get ejected after a fight with Justin Champagnie. If he was going up against a better center, that performance would’ve been exposed.

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