1 stud and 1 dud as Pascal Siakam and Raptors take down Nuggets

Mar 12, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green (32) defends on a shot by Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green (32) defends on a shot by Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports /

Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors had no time to rest on their laurels after taking down the Suns in Phoenix. The likes of Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. needed to quickly get in shape for a back-to-back against MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic and the resurgent Denver Nuggets.

Buoyed by the presence of their Serbian sensation, Denver scored 99 points in three quarters by attacking Toronto in the paint. Luckily for the Raptors, some of their biggest names did everything possible to make sure that they matched them blow for blow heading into the fourth.

The Raptors won their third-straight game by beating Denver 127-115 without OG Anunoby or Fred VanVleet. Toronto used a 34-16 fourth quarter led by a dominant bench unit to start their West Coast swing with a perfect 3-0 record.

The Raptors were taking on the league MVP in his own house, and they put forth a very spirited effort. There were only a handful of players that didn’t show up, as Toronto should feel fairly satisfied with their performance in this game.

Final. 127. 81. 115. 73

Pascal Siakam was dominant for the Toronto Raptors.

Siakam was going to be in for a tough task this evening, as 10-day signing Armoni Brooks was forced into the starting lineup as a result of VanVleet getting some rest and Malachi Flynn being ruled inactive. Nick Nurse entrusted Siakam to lead the charge, and he answered the call once again.

Siakam finished with 33 points on 12-22 shooting, five rebounds, and seven assists. Even with Scottie Barnes flirting with a triple-double, Chris Boucher dominating the offensive glass, and Khem Birch playing his best game in a while, Siakam was the driving force for Toronto tonight.

Siakam had to pull double-duty tonight, as he hung around the perimeter to generate offense and was often in the paint as part of Toronto’s plan to corral Jokic. Siakam started the second half slowly, but he appears to have put his struggles firmly in the past based on his recent performances.

Siakam’s All-Star snub continues to look worse, as he’s putting up numbers that actually exceed what he did in the 2019-20 season. When VanVleet is out, there is no question who the primary offensive force for Toronto is.

Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. was struggling to shoot.

Just one night after topping 40 points once again, it looked like Trent had all of his shooting woes figured out. Going into the altitude on the second night of a back-to-back drained Trent’s energy, as he was bricking shots that he would normally make when not in a slump.

Trent scored just eight points on 2-13 shooting and 1-6 from 3-point range against a lackluster Nuggets perimeter defense. Trent didn’t hit his first 3-pointer until well into the third quarter. Even when he’s causing turnovers on defense, his value plummets when the jumper isn’t working.

The Raptors just saw Trent torch the best team in the league in their building, but it’s hard to figure out if he’s coming out of this funk when he puts up a clunker like this the very next night. Perhaps a brief detour to Los Angeles for those star-studded matchups will get him back on track.

Next. Raptors draft: 3 Gonzaga prospects to target. dark