SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (AP) — Raptors coach Nick Nurse made a risky call to keep Kyle Lowry in the game after the Toronto guard picked up his fifth foul 13 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Nurse’s decision to get the ball to Pascal Siakam late was equally critical, a move that paid off well for the defending NBA champions and simultaneously dealt a big blow to Sacramento’s playoff hopes.
Siakam scored 11 of his 23 points in the final two minutes, Toronto got a big fourth quarter from Lowry and the Raptors held on to beat the Kings 118-113 yesterday.
“This is so good for us to be in these late games and these teams are playing awesome against us,” Nurse said. “It’s great that we have to bring such a level of tenacity to match them. I’m good with them going either way as long as we’re playing. That’s part of the league.”
Lowry scored 13 of his 30 points in the final quarter after picking up his fifth foul. He shot five of seven in the fourth, including a go-ahead three-pointer with 3:20 left.
“That’s one thing where you don’t want to let your teammates down, you don’t want to let your coach down because he trusted you to be in that situation,” Lowry said. “I appreciate Nick for believing in me, believing I could play without fouling out.”
Siakam took over the scoring load late and helped the Raptors to their third straight win since a three-game skid.
Norman Powell had 31 points, Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and OG Anunoby scored 12 for the Raptors. Marc Gasol had three points and two rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench after missing 15 games with a left hamstring injury.
De’Aaron Fox scored 28 points to pace the Kings. Alex Len and Kent Bazemore added 15 apiece off the bench.
Sacramento had won seven of nine since the All-Star break but dropped into a tie with New Orleans for ninth place in the West. The Kings and Pelicans are four games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in the conference.
The teams traded the lead four times over the final four minutes and Toronto couldn’t take control until Siakam’s driving layup with 27.7 seconds remaining. After Fox missed a three-pointer for Sacramento, Siakam was fouled and made two free throws.
“He’s a guy we rely on to make big shots, big plays,” Powell said. “He’s really playing within himself. He’s not getting rattled or sped up by the defence. He’s finding his space where he wants to shoot and he’s taking his shots.”
After Richaun Holmes scored for the Kings, Anunoby and Powell combined for three free throws.
The Kings missed two desperation 3s in the final 15 seconds.
“There’s a reason why they are a championship team,” said Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had nine points on four-of-10 shooting. “The way they play, the way they affect the tempo. We couldn’t find an open shot in the beginning. It was hard to get into a rhythm.”