TORONTO (AP)Pascal Siakam scored 26 points, Jakob Poeltl had 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat the New Orleans Pelicans 115-110 on Thursday night for their sixth victory in seven games.
Gary Trent Jr. scored 18 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute, Scottie Barnes also had 18 and O.G. Anunoby returned from injury with 12 points as the Raptors matched their season high by winning three straight.
Toronto won despite playing without guard Fred VanVleet, who was scratched shortly before tip off because of personal reasons.
The Raptors have won three of four since acquiring Poeltl from San Antonio shortly before the trade deadline. Toronto couldn’t hold a 12-point lead in the final five minutes of Poeltl’s Feb. 10 debut, losing 122-116 to Utah, but the Raptors are unbeaten since.
”First game was a little like getting thrown into the deep end,” Poeltl said, ”Every game I just feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable.”
Poeltl shot 9 for 11 against the Pelicans. He had 10 points and six rebounds in the fourth quarter, three of them on the offensive end.
”He was huge,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. ”Down the stretch of the game, when we went and helped and contested shots, he was right there under the basket and he kind of cleaned up everything.”
Seven of Poeltl’s 18 rebounds Thursday were offensive. Toronto outscored New Orleans 22-13 in second-chance points.
”He gives them a true big, a guy who can finish around the basket,” Pelicans guard CJ McCollum said of Poeltl. ”He sets screens, protects the rim, does a lot of the dirty work and is very efficient and effective.”
Siakam, who was named an All-Star for the second time this season, shot 9 for 21, topping 25 points for the fifth straight game. He went 1 for 5 from 3-point range but finished 7 for 8 at the free throw line.
Brandon Ingram scored 14 of his 36 points in the fourth and McCollum finished with 23 as the Pelicans lost for the third time in four games. New Orleans is 10-20 on the road.
”We got off to a sluggish start, missed some easy bunnies, had some turnovers, gave up some offensive rebounds, some transition points,” McCollum said. ”I think that’s what shifted the game.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Pelicans, who had won the previous two meetings with Toronto.
Ingram’s jump shot in the lane cut the deficit to three points, 111-108, with 1:13 left in the fourth quarter. Poeltl made one of two at the line before Ingram connected again with 33 seconds left, making it 112-110. Trent answered with his third 3-pointer, putting Toronto up by five points 12.3 seconds remaining.
Up 23-19 after one, Toronto led 54-45 at halftime.
Siakam shot 5 for 5 and scored 16 points in the third as the Raptors widened the gap, taking a 92-77 edge to the fourth.
Pelicans: Josh Richardon scored 11 points. . G Dyson Daniels (sprained right ankle) sat for the 12th straight game. Daniels last played Jan. 24 at Denver. . F Larry Nance Jr. returned after missing the final game before the All-Star break because of a sore left groin.
Raptors: Poeltl’s previous career high for rebounds was 17, set twice. . Anunoby returned after missing the final nine games before the All-Star break because of a sprained left wrist.
Chris Boucher punctuated the third quarter with a full court drive and one-handed slam dunk in the final seconds of the period, taking off from just inside the free throw line.
”That was pretty cool,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Boucher’s soaring slam.
Boucher had nine points and eight rebounds.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Toronto plays seven of its next eight on the road.
Pelicans: At New York on Saturday night.
Raptors: At Detroit on Saturday.
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