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This story was originally published on April 19, 2019.
The Toronto Raptors have regained home court advantage.
Despite an off-night from Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors defeated the Orlando Magic in Game 3 by a final score of 98-93. They now lead the first-round series 2-1, with Game 4 to be played in Orlando on Sunday.
For more on Game 3, here are some takeaways from a hard-fought win for the Raptors...
Another career night for Pascal Siakam
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was reportedly asked before the game if Pascal Siakam had become the team's third option.
Nurse's response: "If he has, he's dropped down from being the second option."
With Kawhi Leonard struggling, Siakam actually played like a No. 1 option for much of Game 3. He came out of the gates on fire with 12 points in the opening quarter, five of which came during Toronto's 10-0 run to start the game. He then scored four more points in the second quarter to bring his total to 16 at the half, the most on either team.
The most encouraging part about his first-half performance? Siakam was a perfect 2-for-2 shooting from 3-point range. Even though he entered the game having missed all seven of his 3-point attempts in the series, he didn't show any hesitation to shoot when left open.
Pascal Siakam (16 PTS) leads all scorers at the break on @ESPNNBA! #NBAPlayoffs #WeTheNorth 48#BlueAndWhiteIgnite 45 pic.twitter.com/nnHDH4Dmez- NBA (@NBA) April 20, 2019
Siakam kept that pace going in the third quarter with 10 more points, which helped the Raptors build a double digit lead entering the fourth period.
The Magic stormed back in the fourth, but it was Siakam once again who made the big plays for the Raptors down the stretch.
COOL UNDER PRESSURE pic.twitter.com/CsjjvW6n7W- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 20, 2019
Siakam finished the game with 30 points and 11 rebounds. The last time a Raptor put up those numbers in a playoff game was Chris Bosh in 2008.
An off-night for Kawhi Leonard
The Raptors needed a big game out of Siakam because Kawhi Leonard didn't play to his usual standard.
After going off for 37 points in Game 2, Leonard was limited to only 16 points in Game 3. He missed 14 of his 19 shot attempts and committed a playoff career-high six turnovers.
The Magic were much more aggressive defending Leonard in Game 3. They were quick to double team him and used their length to make every shot difficult for him around the basket.
Jonathan Isaac in particular gave Leonard some trouble. Not only did the 21-year-old block him a couple of times, he forced Leonard into a couple of live ball turnovers.
Delivering big plays on both ends of the floor.@jisaac_01 | 📺: @FOXSportsFL | #BlueAndWhiteIgnite pic.twitter.com/0TbOaIhPvY- Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) April 19, 2019
To his credit, Leonard didn't let a slow start take him out of the game. He forced some tough shots in the second half, but he also set up his teammates with a number of open looks when the Magic collapsed on his drives.
It only resulted in four assists, but Leonard could've easily had a couple more.
Money- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 19, 2019
After the game, Nurse revealed that Leonard did not practice ahead of Game 3 because of an illness.
Kyle Lowry comes up clutch
It should come as no surprise that Kyle Lowry came up with the biggest hustle play of the night.
With the Raptors leading by three points with less than 40 seconds to play, Kawhi Leonard tried to ice the game with a tough pull-up over Aaron Gordon. Leonard's shot attempt came up short and ricocheted towards Magic guard D.J. Augustin, who was standing at the top of the 3-point line.
Lowry, however, beat Augustin to the ball and made a quick pass to Danny Green that helped burn several more seconds off the game clock. The ball eventually ended up in Leonard's hands and he went on to drain a pair of free throws to seal the deal.
Kyle Lowry's crucial rebound pic.twitter.com/RGJWKFuVt6- Dime (@DimeUPROXX) April 20, 2019
After the game, Lowry said his thought process on the play was to simply "go get it."
Gasol had even more to say, via TSN's Josh Lewenberg: "That rebound. Talk about that rebound. That was the game. That's Kyle. And that has nothing to do with scoring. He stuck his nose in there, he ran through that ball and he got the rebound. He won the game for us."
Terrence Ross steps up
During their playoff push down the final stretch of the season, Terrence Ross was the Magic's X-factor off the bench.
His absence has been felt by Orlando already this postseason, as Ross has struggled to get into a rhythm.
He couldn't find his stroke in Game 1 - Ross scored 11 points but went 2-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from distance in the win. In Game 2, it looked like the Magic were going to get that scoring burst from him, but he followed up a 15-point first half by missing all three of his shot attempts in the second half.
In Game 3, Ross finally made his presence felt for a full game. The Magic's bench catalyst scored 24 points in the game, going 8-for-17 from the field and 5-for-13 from 3-point range.
One of his five 3-pointers included a half court heave to give his team some momentum heading into the half.
:rotating_light: T-Ross has no respect for the buzzer. :rotating_light:@TFlight31 | #BlueAndWhiteIgnite pic.twitter.com/YKY9HAmQIQ- Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) April 20, 2019
Ross buried a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter, refusing to let the Magic go down without a fight. 13 of his 24 points came in the game's final frame to keep his team alive.
Orlando fell just short but finally saw their bench scorer catch fire, giving him some confidence moving forward in the series.
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