Entering tonight’s matchup, New Orleans had only one perfect four-game road trip in franchise history — where they walked away sweeping the entire slate of contests with wins. The Pelicans came oh so close to accomplishing the feat for a second time, but ultimately, the Toronto Raptors prevailed on the strength of four key perimeter jumpers in the final 3:21 of the game to win going away, 122-118.
After viewing this highly entertaining battle, one would have sworn today must have been opposite day.
Although Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins combined for 38 points, 22 rebounds and seven assists, the duo shot just 36.8% from the floor and 21.4% from three-point range. Conversely, the rest of the roster blistered the nets, shooting 68.2% from the field and 58.8% from deep.
Jrue Holiday was the team’s biggest contributor on the night, posting a stellar line of 34 points — just four away from tying his career high, 11 assists and five rebounds. Not to be outdone, Dante Cunningham cracked double digits for the first time this season with 11 points, making all three of his three-point attempts, and E’Twaun Moore had 13 points, five assists and four rebounds.
The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 33 points, but both Kyle Lowry’s 18 points and Serge Ibaka’s 19 points factored immensely down the stretch. However, Toronto grabbing 10 offensive rebounds were all individual little daggers throughout the contest — the Raptors wound up destroying the Pelicans in 2nd chance points by a 19-4 margin!
Anyways, in a start that immediately reminded fans of Tuesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, the Raptors started out shooting fire in the first quarter. The Pelicans were able to stay within striking range thanks to ten early free throw attempts, but they converted only six as Cousins specifically struggled to find the range. In fact, Boogie having issues all over the floor seemed to be a consistent theme for much of the night.
In the first half alone, Cousins totaled seven turnovers, three personal fouls and one technical foul. His frustrations with the officiating was visible, but one can’t help but assume that much of his angst stemmed from his poor play.
With 32 seconds remaining in the first half and the Pelicans trailing 61-60, Cousins fouled DeRozan but continued to offer his opinion to the referees after Darius Miller replaced him on the floor. Seven seconds later, he was awarded his third technical foul of the season.
From the bench.
The Raptors proceeded to close out the half on a 5-0 run to take a 66-60 lead into halftime. Considering the difference in the game wound up a mere four points, how the final moments of the first half unfolded loom rather large in retrospect.
Despite Boogie’s unusually subpar game, New Orleans had his back time and again. In the first half, Holiday went off for a career-high 24 points, including finally making his first two three-point shots here in the month of November. Then, after New Orleans fell behind by as many as nine points early in the third quarter, the Pelicans went on an 10-0 run to seize the lead.
In fact, the game remained within a small four-point window either way until an Ibaka three with 2:06 remaining put the Raptors up five. Although the Pelicans tried to keep things interesting after a Boogie three, they ran out of bullets in the chamber.
Oh well, a 6-6 record it is for New Orleans, and considering all the negatives before the regular season even started — Rajon Rondo and Solomon Hill succumbing to injury and the Pelicans looking out of sync for most of the preseason, it’s hard to be upset about a .500 mark after the first twelve games of the schedule.
Up next, New Orleans welcomes the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday evening for a 6:00 PM tip. The Blake Griffin-led squad has been spiraling of late, losing five of their last six games. And with Patrick Beverley and Danilo Gallinari scheduled to miss tomorrow’s game against the Thunder, the Pelicans should be staring at a fantastic opportunity to get back to their winning ways.