Malachi Flynn almost entered Toronto Raptors legend status on Tuesday night.
Just when it looked like the Raptors were dead, trailing by 14 with just over two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Flynn stepped into the telephone booth and came out Superman, single-handedly sparking the Raptors on a 12-0 run with four straight 3-pointers. It was enough to force Raptors coach Nick Nurse to draw up one final play for the rookie, but legend status couldn't quite be achieved. Flynn couldn't nail the final 3-pointer and the Raptors fell 108-103 to the Atlanta Hawks.
"Well, I think it says a lot [about him] and I think it's really valuable for him to be out there," Nurse said of Flynn. "He starts banging in a couple [3-pointers] and playing carefree and playing hard at the defensive end too, made some plays there. So it's good, it's good experience for him."
While Flynn certainly played hero late scoring 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, it was Pascal Siakam who did the bulk of the heavy lifting throughout. After squandering a golden opportunity late in Sunday's game, Siakam bounced back for one of his best offensive games of the season.
"It's just finding a way to early be involved in different things," Siakam said of his 13-for-19 performance. "Finding your energy on defence and I think it makes it easier to probably attack the rim and finish. But also, there's nights where it happens and you're not making shots and I think you've gotta find a way to get away from that. Like, you can't go 1-for-10 or something like I did last game."
Overall, it's been a very up-and-down season for the Raptors' 27-year-old star. Siakam hasn't quite found his 3-point stroke all season, but even his inside scoring seems to be a little inconsistent. He's shooting just 55% this year within eight feet of the rim, per NBA Stats. While some of that is due to hesitancy around the rim, Siakam is still recovering from his COVID-19 diagnosis and the 10 to 15 pounds he lost during his quarantine.
"I'm working on is building my strength back," he said. "I think that's the most important thing and I'm not really worried about the pounds that I lost. Again, I don't know, I'm still figuring out if it's to my advantage or not [the lost weight]."
While Siakam's 3-point shot continued not to fall on Tuesday, almost everything at the rim was a bucket. He shot 8-for-9 inside the paint and 12-for-14 inside 3-point range.
The problem for the Raptors on Tuesday was once again the defence. Much like the last two times they've seen the Hawks, nobody seemed to be able to close out on Atlanta's 3-point shooters and slow down Kevin Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic. And while the Hawks were nailing their 3-pointers, it wasn't until the very end that Toronto's 3-point shooting came alive and by then it was too little too late.
Up Next: San Antonio Spurs
This crazy four games in five days stretch for the Raptors comes to a close Wednesday night when DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs come to Tampa for a 7:30 p.m. ET tipoff.