TORONTO – The Toronto Raptors scored another close victory as they prepare for the playoffs.
Pascal Siakam scored a double-double with 29 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Raptors over the Houston Rockets 117-115 on Friday night.
With the win, Toronto can now finish less than fifth in the Eastern Conference with one game left to play in the regular season.
Gary Trent Jr. scored 26 points for Toronto (48-33), while Scotty Barnes added 16 points in the win.
The Rockets (20-61) were led by Kevin Porter Jr., who finished in a double with 35 points and 10 rebounds.
The Raptors have now won three games in a row and are holding a record 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Toronto got off to a slow start, dropping as much as 24 points early in the second quarter.
“There wasn’t a lot of movement to try and stop them,” said Nick Norse, Raptors coach. “We’ve given up a bunch of reps and a bunch of wide-open triples.”
Toronto was able to shake off the deficit, returning the game to a tie on several occasions in the third and fourth quarters.
A tricky corner kick from Trent Jr. just 4.8 seconds before proved the game winner, as Toronto’s defense stood tall on Houston’s last possession to secure the win.
When Trent Jr. was asked how he approached the match while in the clutch, he said “whatever his defense gives me is.” “When I see an opportunity, take it, be firm, and be confident.”
Both Trent Jr. and the Raptors’ rookie Barnes combined for a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, as Barnes thrilled the sold-out crowd of 19,800 at Scotiabank Arena with a quick break to give the Raptors a four-point lead in just a few minutes. go followed by Trent Jr. Possessing the ball after only a few minutes.
“It’s everything you dream about,” Trent said of putting the ball in his hands with the match on the goal line. “It’s all you work for…the house has been rocking, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to talk about next week.”
Barnes, who finished strong with 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, impressed Nurse with his closing attempt in the tight game.
“One of the things I always talk about is competitive leadership. Do you want to compete? (Barnes) and Gary are both already playing in the fourth quarter,” said a nurse. “It’s all just a competitive drive and I think the match moment overtakes them and they both start competing like heck.”
Although Trent Jr. and Barnes took charge in fourth, it was Siakam’s efforts that kept the Raptors within walking distance to the crucial final frame. He had 18 of Toronto’s 57 points in the first half, keeping the competition in check with Houston ahead.
The Rockets got off to a hot start, with Toronto struggling on both ends of the field early in the game. The Rockets fired 65.2 percent of the field in the first quarter, while the Raptors only managed 22.2 percent by the end.
Fifteen points in the first quarter from the Houston Porter Jr. guard led the Rockets to a 16-point lead after the opening frame.
Toronto came to life in the second, outpacing the Rockets in that quarter 37-30 and Siakam scored 14 points in the period.
The Raptors will travel to New York to face the Knicks in the regular season final on Sunday.