VanVleet tops 30 for third straight game, Raptors rout Spurs
TORONTO (AP) — Fred VanVleet scored 33 points, Pascal Siakam had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors extended their winning streak to three by beating the San Antonio Spurs 129-104 on Tuesday night.
Gary Trent Jr. scored 21 points as the Raptors evened their record at 17-17, reaching the .500 mark for the first time since they were 7-7 after a Nov. 13 home loss to Detroit.
The Raptors have won eight of their past 10 at home.
Toronto’s OG Anunoby scored 14 points and rookie Scottie Barnes had 11 points and a career-best eight assists. Justin Champagnie scored a career-high 14 for the Raptors, who matched their season-high point total.
VanVleet topped 30 points for the third straight game and fourth time in his past five. He’s the first Raptors player to score 30 or more in three straight games since Kawhi Leonard did it in four straight from Jan. 13-27, 2019.
“You recognize when you’re in rhythm and you just try to hold on as long as possible, because it’s not always like that,” VanVleet said. “I try to keep my floor a little higher but when you’re hot, you’ve just got to be aggressive and ride it out as long as you can.”
VanVleet shot 12 for 23 and matched his season highs with seven made 3-pointers and 14 attempts from distance. He also had seven assists.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said VanVleet’s recent string of solid performances have burnished his All-Star credentials, but acknowledged that more Toronto wins would help strengthen the guard’s case.
“I think he’s got to be in the conversation,” Nurse said. “We’ve got to climb the standings some. I just think that’s part of it. If we do, then he certainly will deserve it.”
Toronto set a season high with 30 assists and shot 18 for 44 from outside the arc, matching its season best for made 3-pointers.
Former Raptors center Jakob Poeltl scored 19 points and Devin Vassell and rookie Josh Primo each had 15 as the slumping Spurs lost their fourth straight. Joe Wieskamp scored 13 points and Derrick White had 12 for San Antonio.
“I thought Jakob was great tonight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I was really glad to see Jakob be as assertive as he was on offense. With two G-League guys, Josh and Joe, I thought they were fantastic. Devin was fairly solid but we didn’t get much from anybody else.”
Toronto led 30-29 after one, and extended its lead with a 14-1 run in the second. The Raptors shot 7 for 14 from 3-point range in the second quarter and led 68-53 at halftime.
Toronto took a 97-81 lead to the fourth.
VanVleet has scored 30 or more six times this season, matching the number of times he did so in 52 games last season.
For the third straight game, only family and friends of the players were allowed inside the arena. Toronto native Primo had expected to have a group of “hundreds” on hand for his first professional game in Canada, but had to reduce that to about 20 people.
“It’s great being able to come out here and be in my hometown, play in front of some family and friends,” Primo said. “Playing in this arena brings back memories of coming into the Air Canada Centre at the time, watching games and wanting to be on that stage. Now being here, it’s a moment I’m just grateful to have.”
BACK IN ACTION
F Keita Bates-Diop came off the bench for the Spurs after missing Saturday’s overtime loss at Detroit because of a sore right hamstring. He scored seven points in 16 minutes.
Spurs: F Devontae Cacok, F Doug McDermott, and G Lonnie Walker IV were all unavailable (health and safety protocols) while G Dejounte Murray (conditioning) did not play. … Matched a season high with 20 turnovers.
Raptors: F Svi Mykhailiuk and F Yuta Watanabe entered the health and safety protocols. … F Isaac Bonga returned after missing the previous four games. Bonga was in the health and safety protocols for three games, then sat out Sunday for conditioning. … Toronto also scored 129 points and made 18 3-pointers in an overtime loss at Brooklyn on Dec. 14.
Spurs: Visit Boston on Wednesday.
Raptors: Visit Milwaukee on Wednesday.
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