New Orleans kept making holes for themselves and then climbing out of them, but they faltered down the stretch as their defensive rebounding and three-point defense faltered.
In the first, the Pelicans fell way behind, much like the previous night. Instead of offensive problems, the defense was the culprit as Toronto scored 31 points on the back of DeMar DeRozan's bizarrely can't-miss shooting and Kyle Lowry's efficient distribution and shooting. Brian Roberts had problems keeping his marks out of the lane, where they were able to either score or hit open shooters.
Ajinca was ineffective early, yielding to the Steamer, who quickly hit foul trouble. As a result, Jeff Withey got lots of minutes in the first half, and along with a lineup of Luke Babbitt, Tyreke Evans, and Austin Rivers, the Pelicans were able to climb out of the big first-quarter deficit and pull ahead with a few minutes to go in the second quarter.
The story repeated itself in the second half - the Raptors starters rang up huge leads and the Pelicans reserves came in to mop up the mess. Patrick Patterson was nailing threes, Lowry was effortlessly getting into the paint, and Davis was consistently in foul trouble.
In the fourth, the Pelicans entered with a huge deficit, but the Pelicans cut it to a tie with five minutes left in the game on the back of some uninspired offense from the Raptors and some solid play by Tereke Evans on offense and defense. Davis threw home two excellent alley-oops and Luke Babbitt hit a huge three to pull the Pellies close. Lowry, Ross, and Patterson came in, however, and overwhelmed the Pelicans at the end of the game, building a 9 point lead from which the Pelicans couldn't come back.
- Anthony Davis has had two mediocre performances to start off this road trip. Tonight, he had some pretty severe defensive lapses late in the fourth quarter, floating in the middle of the key and opening Patterson up for a jumper and playing poor pick and roll defense and allowing an easy three later on. He would have probably had a better stat line had he not been in foul trouble.
- Tyler Hansbrough was the most effective of the Raptors' reserves by far. He's a really chippy player and his physical work down low got him a lot of rebounds and easy shots - he ended with 6 rebounds and 12 points on only 6 attempts.
- Ajinca, Stiemsma, and Withey split the minutes at the 5, for no particular reason - Valancunias played less than thirty minutes. None of them were particularly effective, but I sure do like watching Withey jump - he's really quick.
- Tyreke Evans had an absolutely fantastic game coming back from his bizarre benching. He played solid defense, was very efficient shooting, drove to the rim at will, and flashed some amazing passing skills. To start things off, he actually passed in transition, and then he made a great pass to Davis for an easy dunk off a pick and roll. He was off from there and finished with 10 rebounds and 23 points on 14 shots - a nice return from Monty's Doghouse (TM).
- Kyle Lowry is the real deal - he was super efficient on offense, knocking down 8 of his 13 shots, dishing out 12 assists, and even grabbing five offensive boards. He should have been an All-Star.
- The Pelicans' inability to defend the three-pointer bit them again - the Raptors shot 42% on 24 threes, and that was the difference in the game. The Pelicans shot well, as always, but only took 12 three-pointers. Instead, New Orleans took a panoply of mid-range jump shots in the stretches when they weren't able to get to the bucket.