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New Orleans Pelicans lose easily to Toronto Raptors, 100-81

The Pelicans started strong but their fade was even more remarkable as the Raptors outclassed New Orleans by 19 points in the second half.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With no Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter, Norris Cole and Kendrick Perkins, the Pelicans faced a tall order in the Air Canada Centre. Yet, they managed to start quickly led by an aggressive Jrue Holiday, and then his backcourt mate, Eric Gordon, took over. He poured in 20 points in the first half, but unfortunately no one else could get it going -- a pattern that would continue throughout.

For most of the first 24 minutes, the Pelicans maintained the lead, and at one point, they led by as many as 9 points. New Orleans dominated the points in the paint in the first half (22-10), but Toronto was able to stay in the game through a number of trips to the charity stripe. The Raptors made a healthy 14-16 from the free throw line.

Coming out of a 40-40 halftime score, both teams initially hit another gear in the 3rd quarter. Unfortunately, the Raptors gear was stronger as they tallied 19 points in less than the first 6 minutes of play. 3 minutes later, the Raptors grew their lead to double-digits. That negative spiral continued into and through the 4th quarter as the Pelicans could only helplessly watch the inferno burn.

Say hello to a dismal, bottom-feeding 1-8 record in the Western Conference.

Eric Gordon led the Pelicans with 30 points and 4 threes. Jrue Holiday, in limited minutes, totaled 19. As evidenced by their 4 combined assists, no one else joined the party. Well, almost no one. Alexis Ajinca had his best offensive night on the young season as he scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 21 minutes of action.

Jonas Valanciunas was a problem  early and often, scoring 15 points in the first half. He finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and absolutely dominated his matchup with Omer Asik when the game still mattered. (Asik was lost throughout and on both ends of the floor: 0-3, 3 turnovers.) Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with a line of 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 threes and 4 steals.

Stay tuned for Quentin's full recap coming up later. As promising as the Pelicans had been playing of late, tonight's second half was felt like two steps back. Hopefully, the Pelicans can change their fortunes Sunday against the New York Knicks and welcome a return of Anthony Davis.

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