The chants are silly but some fans find them fun, it seems, and they were in full throat when Pascal Siakam went to the free-throw line late in the third quarter Wednesday night.
“M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P,” they screamed.
It’s too early, and too far-fetched, but if there was a legitimate discussion about the top five or 10 players in the NBA at this particular moment, the Raptors forward would certainly be in it.
The ascendant fourth-year forward exploded for 31 points in just 30 minutes Monday at the Scotiabank Arena, leading the Raptors to an easy 126-98 victory over the New York Knicks.
Now, the Knicks are basically inept and fully deserving of the 4-14 record they are dragging around today, but Siakam had his way whenever he wanted, scoring in the post at will, tying his career high with five made three-pointers and posting his seventh game with 30 or more points this season.
“He saw a lot of space and he took it at times and he’d jab-step and pull back a few times early, and I love it,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I think he’s ultra-aggressive, a lot of catch-and-shoot threes, which I love.
“Those are easy possessions, he doesn’t have to get pounded on or make three spin moves to get a shot up or anything. It’s nice that he gets to come down and take some of those.”
There were more easy possessions that many could imagine for the Raptors, who set a franchise record with their eighth straight home win to open the season.
They fell behind in the first eight minutes and trailed after a quarter but outscored the Knicks 105-69 over the final three quarters.
Seven players scored in double figures and 10 of the 11 players to get in the game had at least one basket.
- Fancy footwork: Knicks forward RJ Barrett, from Mississauga, showed up for his first NBA game at the Scotiabank Arena sporting custom-made red and black game sneakers with the Toronto skyline and “Made In Canada” emblazoned on them.
He estimated there were 300 friends and family in the crowd — “I got a lot of people coming,” he said Wednesday morning — to see the No. 3 pick in June’s draft.
After missing New York’s game Sunday with an illness, Barrett played 31 minutes in his Toronto debut, scoring 16 points on 5-for-17 shooting from the floor. He is one of the few Knicks players with a promising future.
He said before the game he was overwhelmed with excitement about making his Toronto debut and is having a hard time wrapping his head around being a role model for young Canadians. “I don’t really think about it too much like that because, in my mind, I’m still a kid,” he said. “I still look up to, like, if I see LeBron’s triple-double I’m still talking to my friends like ‘Man, this is crazy.’ So things haven’t really registered for me yet but I’m just humbled and honoured that people even think of me that way.”
Knicks coach David Fizdale said he’s been most impressed with Barrett’s willingness to learn.
“There have been young guys in this league who act like they know all the answers and he’s always up underneath (the vets) trying to learn something new,” Fizdale said. “When we’re talking matchups he’s always talking to Marcus Morris or Taj (Gibson) — ‘What does this guy like to do?’ It’s just refreshing to see a guy so open to getting better and learning.”
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- Canadian content: As the game devolved into garbage time late in the fourth quarter, Canadian history unfolded. There were four Canadians — Chris Boucher and Oshae Brissett of the Raptors and Barrett and Iggy Brazdeikis of the Knicks — on the floor at the same time.
- Up next: A little American Thanksgiving road trip to Florida and a Friday evening date with the Magic in Orlando.
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