Raptors ride Siakam and Trent Jr. for relatively easy win over Sixers

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Pascal Siakam started and Gary Trent Jr. brought him home as the Raptors beat conference rival Philadelphia 76ers in a typically entertaining affair.

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Both teams had plenty of offense, but the Raptors defense had a bit more that night as they quickly took an lead and held off the visiting Sixers for a 119-109 win.

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It was the first of two games between the two clubs here at Scotiabank Arena and both teams resumed play on Friday as the league attempted to reduce some regular season travel.

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Siakam was dazzling in the first quarter as he drilled all four of his three-point attempts and finished with 15 in the first frame.

The Sixers took the hint and tightened things up on Siakam who stalled at 20 for the night.

Trent Jr. then took over and made his own little run, all but six of his team-high 27 points in the second half.

Down the stretch, however, it was two big threes and a successful trip from Fred VanVleet to the free throw line that quickly took a seven-point night on a 15-point night and closed the game for the Raptors.

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Toronto’s five starters scored in double figures and were joined by Chris Boucher’s 13 as they shot 57% as a team.

« I think we’d like to draw it like that every night, » Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said of the split score. “It doesn’t happen very often. But you can’t really establish it. It’s just a product of taking what’s there and a bit of everything was there tonight.

The Raptors’ defense wasn’t exactly stellar stat-wise, but was better than anything the Sixers have managed.

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And Nurse was actually very happy with that aspect of his team’s play.

« I think whatever we did, it made us active, » Nurse said. « It looked like we didn’t create a lot of turnovers, but there was still a lot of disruption. »

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For truly the first time this year, the Raptors focused on sharing the basketball, finishing with a season-high 36 assists. The 16 three-point shots made were a good byproduct of that.

With the win, the Raptors improved to 3-2, while the Sixers, who themselves have a pretty tough opening week schedule, fell to 1-4.

Embiid and Tyrese Maxey both finished with 31 points, but the key was the Raptors held James Harden down to just 18.

The Raptors were locked in offensively for this one from the opening tip.

He declared with Siakam but he had a lot of company.

Siakam would finish the first half with 19 points, but most of that damage came in the first quarter.

For the quarter, Siakam was 5 for 6 for 15 points, two rebounds and two assists

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PJ Tucker, the two-time short-lived Raptor, played 10 minutes and had two rebounds.

For most of that quarter, it was almost comical to watch Siakam, first physically and then verbally, abuse Tucker who built his reputation in the NBA on his defense.

Siakam is known for speaking on the pitch, but it was a bit more than that.

The Sixers were down as much as 17 points at one point in the half, but thanks to their big three – Embiid, Maxey and Harden, they cut it down to a 10-point halftime deficit.

Embiid and Maxey, whose speed was a real problem for the Raptors as he continually turned the corner and beat the defense out the window, both had 14 while Harden was limited to 13 on 3-for-7 shooting.

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Helping Philadelphia stay in this one was also a generous whistle that favored them significantly in that first half.

Toronto was called for 13 personal fouls in the first half, compared to just five for the Sixers.

Khem Birch and rookie Christian Koloko, both guarding Embiid, combined seven of those fouls with OG Anunoby also picking up three in the first.

  1. Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) drives the ball around Toronto Raptors forward Christian Koloko on Monday night.

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  2. Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) throws the ball over Toronto Raptors forwards Pascal Siakam (43) and Chris Boucher (25) in the first half at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night.

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It has been quite a week for the African country of Cameroon.

On Monday in Miami, for the first time in NBA history, two Cameroon natives started for the same team with rookie Koloko starting in place of injured Scottie Barnes and joining fellow Cameroon native Doula Siakam in the Raptors from age five.

Wednesday night saw another first for Cameroon as Siakam, Koloko and Embiid shared the floor, marking the first time a total of three Cameroonians have been on NBA soil together.

Koloko ended up playing just 11 minutes and had trouble with fouls.

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