The Toronto Raptors are focused on putting out a professional effort even as trade rumours swirl around the team.
Pascal Siakam’s 37 points led all scorers in Toronto’s 112-98 win over the struggling San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. Point guard Fred VanVleet said he wasn’t paying attention to any of the media reports surrounding Thursday’s trade deadline but acknowledged that he and several of his Raptors teammates could be moved.
“We’ve got a lot of good players on a team that’s not winning. That’s pretty much it,” said VanVleet, who had 16 points and four assists. “We haven’t played up to our standard this year so we put ourselves in this position. Now you’ve got to deal with it.
“We understand there’s going to be probably every team in the league calling. We’ve got a lot of guys that a lot of teams want and we’re not in a great situation.”
Siakam also pulled down 10 rebounds and added a team-best seven assists as Toronto (26-30) won its third straight. It was his fourth 30-point double-double of the season and 22nd of his career.
Chris Boucher added 18 off the Raptors bench – including seven in the fourth quarter – and had 11 rebounds. The Montreal native said he has been through trade deadlines “way too much” but that this year’s feels different.
“Because we are losing, obviously,” said Boucher. “But for a team that has been in all the talks and all that, I think we’re doing a really good job to stay positive and stay together.
“You just never know what is going to happen so we just try to stay together. We want to win games. That is the only focus we have now.”
Keldon Johnson had 22 points as San Antonio (14-41) lost its 10th consecutive game. Josh Richardson added 14 and Jakob Poeltl chipped in 12.
Poeltl started his career in Toronto and was traded with DeMar DeRozan and a 2019 first-round draft pick to the Spurs in the summer of 2018 for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
That deal laid the foundation for the Raptors’ championship run in 2019 and Poeltl’s name is once again being mentioned in trade rumours.
“I just try to focus on the here and now for the most part,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of noise and stuff. I’m just trying to keep it out as much as possible, just trying to focus on these games now.
“Whatever happens by whatever time it is tomorrow, I’ll deal with it then.”
Siakam scored a season-high 18 points in the first quarter as the Raptors built a 34-24 lead. His previous high was 17 points, a mark he set in both the second and third quarters of Toronto’s 113-106 victory over the New York Knicks on Dec. 21.
“We had one of those good things happen where the very first set we ran, we got (Siakam) an inside layup,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “I always think that if you can get a guy something at the rim right off the bat, wide open, that always gets him feeling good.”
Richardson drilled a three-pointer with 22 seconds left in the half before VanVleet’s layup gave Toronto a 57-54 lead heading into the intermission.
The Raptors were uncharacteristically irresponsible with the ball in the first half, coughing up eight turnovers for 11 points. They finished the win over San Antonio despite 16 turnovers that led to 22 points.
Toronto entered Wednesday’s tilt with an NBA-best 11.7 turnovers per game.
The Raptors opened the third with a 10-4 run and continued to pull away throughout the quarter. Johnson made two free throws with nine seconds left in the third to cut Toronto’s lead to 88-75.
San Antonio could do little to further cut into that lead in the final quarter. Siakam sank a 17-foot jumper to make it 110-98 with less than a minute left. Boucher then made two free throws for his sixth and seventh points of the quarter before Siakam grabbed his 10th rebound on the final play of the game to seal the win.
Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby and guard Otto Porter Jr. were both inactive for the game. Anunoby sprained his left wrist in the Raptors’ 129-117 loss to Golden State on Jan. 27. Porter is recovering from toe dislocation surgery.
The Raptors earned a 4-3 record on a seven-game road trip, their longest of the season. Nurse said before Wednesday’s game that he and his coaching staff worked hard to avoid a post-trip letdown after the successful western swing.
“We got off the plane and had a super intense, fast, pacy practice yesterday,” said Nurse. “Normally we’re `let’s take the day off, let’s not have shootaround, recover from the trip.”'
Toronto hosts the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
The Spurs travel to Detroit on Friday to play the Pistons.