Markkanen, Kessler help Jazz rally past Raptors

TORONTO – Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler had 23 points apiece as the short-handed Utah Jazz rallied past the Toronto Raptors 122-116 on Friday.

Kelly Olynyk of Kamloops, B.C., almost had a triple-double, with 15 points, seven rebounds and eight assists as the Jazz (28-29) ended a three-game skid.

Utah was without guard Russell Westbrook, forward Juan Toscano-Anderson and centre Damian Jones. They were not yet with the team after being traded to the Jazz in a three-team deal Thursday.

Newly minted all-star Pascal Siakam scored 35 to lead the Raptors (26-31), who saw their three-game win streak snapped.

Siakam, who also had six rebounds and four assists, was named to the NBA all-star player pool as an injury replacement earlier Friday.

Toronto centre Jakob Poeltl got a rousing ovation from the 19,800 in attendance at Scotiabank Arena when he entered the game with 5:06 left in the first quarter.

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Poeltl was traded to Toronto from San Antonio early on Thursday ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said before the game that Poeltl wouldn’t be in the starting lineup, however, as he had not yet practised with his Toronto teammates.

The 27-year-old Poeltl said he had grown in his time with the Spurs after being traded to San Antonio by the Raptors in 2018.

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“I had many different roles when I first got there and I was working my way into the system,” said Poeltl. “Then over the years, as the team got younger, I had to take on more and more responsibility.”

Poeltl pounded a fist on the basket’s padded support beam after making a contested layup and drawing a foul with 2:01 left in the first. The Raptors led 34-28 after one quarter.

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Siakam sank an eight-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left in the half to give Toronto a 61-58 lead heading into intermission. His 23 points after two quarters led all scorers.

He made his season-high fifth three-pointer of the night with 6:05 to play in the third. His previous high was four in a 119-106 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 26.

Fred VanVleet made two free throws with 1.7 seconds left in the third quarter to extend the Raptors’ lead to 13, 96-83.

Kessler dunked an alley-oop pass from Talen Horton-Tucker to pull Utah within eight with 4:12 left in the game. After Markkanen grabbed a defensive rebound, Horton-Tucker scored a layup to cut Toronto’s lead to six.

Olynyk followed that up with a three-pointer and Precious Achiuwa turned it over on a travel, allowing Collin Sexton’s layup to bring the Jazz to within a point. Sexton was fouled on his drive to the net and the ensuing free throw tied the game 112-112.

Scottie Barnes sank two free throws for his 10th point of the game and to reassert the Raptors’ lead, but Markkanen drained a floater and made a free throw for a 115-114 Utah lead.

Sexton’s layup extended that lead to three points before Barnes drove to the net with 1:14 left to play to keep Toronto within a point. A Kessler layup made it 119-116 and Utah regained control when the ball went out of bounds on a Raptors possession.

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Sexton was fouled by Gary Trent Jr. as he drove to the net with 11.3 seconds left in the game. Sexton made one of two free throws to make it a four-point game.

After the ball was inbounded to him, Horton-Tucker ran deep into the defensive end of the court and was fouled. He made both of his free throws for the final score of the game.

SIAKAM ALL-STAR NOD — Siakam, Minnesota guard Anthony Edwards and Sacramento guard De’Aaron Fox were named by NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s office to the all-star player pool. They replace Golden State’s Stephen Curry, New Orleans’ Zion Williamson and Phoenix’s Kevin Durant — all of whom are injured and will be unable to play in the Feb. 19 game in Salt Lake City.

UP NEXT — Toronto hosts the Detroit Pistons and former head coach Dwane Casey on Sunday afternoon.

Utah travels to New York to play the Knicks on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 10, 2023.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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