By JOE REEDY – AP sportswriter
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 31 points and the roaming Toronto Raptors held off a comeback from the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter for a 103-100 win Wednesday night.
The Raptors (39-30) have won five straight and went 5-1 on their road trip. Siakam has scored at least 20 points in eight straight games in his career, averaging 27.8 points over that span.
“I think it’s a great serenity. He sees things very clearly,” said Toronto coach Nick Nurse. “I thought he made a really hard basket where they pushed him back but he was able to create some space and get a physical finish.”
Siakam also had 12 rebounds for his 23rd double-double of the season and tied a season-high with three 3 points.
“The more I get into situations, the better I get,” he said. “I’m trying to work on being composed, knowing where I have to go and having my way. I just have to stick to it. I know there will be runs, but stay consistent in what we’re doing.”
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Fred VanVleet added 21 points for the Raptors, who went 39-30 in a tie for sixth place with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. Nine of Toronto’s final 13 regular-season games are at home as they try to avoid making the play-in tournament in a tightly packed playoff race.
Reggie Jackson led the Clippers with 23 points and Marcus Morris Sr. added 22. Los Angeles dropped three out of four points to 36-36. The Clippers are firmly anchored in eighth place in the Western Conference. They are 5 1/2 games behind Minnesota in seventh place but 5 1/2 ahead of the Lakers, who are in ninth place.
“Offensively it was a good challenge for us. We tried to make the right play and pass, but they beat us 1-on-1,” said coach Tyronn Lue.
Toronto led 93-83 midway through the fourth quarter before the Clippers came back. Jackson’s layup put Los Angeles within 99-97 with 1:28 remaining, but it failed to make the tie basket.
The Clippers had a chance to send it into overtime but Morris missed by 1.7 seconds on a 3-point try.
The first half saw nine lead changes and four ties before the Raptors put on a 19-6 run past the final 6:35 to take a 54-44 lead at halftime. VanVleet hit the sprint with nine points.
Toronto extended their lead to 65-48 with 9:42 remaining in the third quarter. It stayed in double figures until the Clippers scored 11 straight points late in the third and early in the fourth to come within 78-76. Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes responded with a 3-pointer to subsequent possession to help Toronto regain momentum.
“I think we’ve been able to get through some things without looking like we’re shaky,” Nurse said.
Raptors: Toronto had 16 offensive rebounds, resulting in 21 points. … Barnes had 15 points, nine of them in the second half. … Siakam had 14 points and six rebounds in the third quarter.
Clippers: Terance Mann (16 points, nine rebounds) and Isaiah Hartenstein (12 points) came on as substitutes and scored in double digits. … Robert Covington returned after missing five games for personal reasons and scored seven points in 21 minutes. He also had three steals to reach 850 for his career. … Jackson accounted for 23 of LA’s 26 points in the first quarter. He scored 10 points and his five assists resulted in 13 points. … Ivica Zubac had all seven rebounds in the first 8 1/2 minutes.
Raptors: host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Clippers: At the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
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