The Pelicans lost at home Friday night to the Eastern Conference contender Toronto Raptors 127-104, falling on their face after an exciting, competitive first half (65-61). But hey, there were maybe only 8 minutes of garbage time: victory, considering the rosters!
Anthony Davis was a late scratch for the Pels due to lower back spasms, leaving Nola without Jrue Holiday, E’Twuan Moore and the big man.
The Pelicans established themselves in the painted area, featuring a lot of Julius Randle drives. Cheick Diallo made his first 5 shots - and check the dunk below - making an impact on a night he was mic’d up by Fox Sports New Orleans.
.@cheick_diallo13 hit em with the Hammer Dunk!!! @FOXSportsNOLA #doitBIG pic.twitter.com/NS3Fms6P5d— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 9, 2019
Elfrid Payton left due to an injury scare to a finger or hand, but returned after X-rays came back negative, which is a nice positive.
Meanwhile, under complete and efficient control, Kawhi Leonard sought out shots and he’d make 11 of 13 first half shots for 24 points - he’d end up with 31 points on 14-of-20 shooting. He actually missed most of his 3s (1-5), just pouring in shots from all over midrange. He made it look easy.
Kawhi Leonard is the leading scorer and #NBAFantasy leader at the half in New Orleans with 24 PTS and 31.2 FPTS! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/b0gv8saTU7— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) March 9, 2019
Toronto would outscore the Pels 24-16 in the 3rd, relying on shots from Kawhi, Pascal Siakam, and Danny Green to push the visitors’ lead to a 93-80 advantage; honestly, they were due after shooting just 3-of-16 from 3 in the first half. During the third, the Pels revealed their true colors in a Darius Miller-Solomon Hill pick-and-roll (think about that: a Darius Miller-Solomon hill pick-and-roll) turnover to Jeremy Lin 3-pointer, his very first as a member of the Raptors in this his 8th game. Seemed like a telling moment for teams headed in different directions.
Toronto additions Marc Gasol (9 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Jeremy Lin (14 points off the bench) add depth to a team missing Fred VanFleet, but 8 guys played 20+ minutes and Gasol played 18. The Pels had to muster together the so-so trio wing rotation of Miller, Solo and Stanley Johnson to get to 10 guys.
Hey, a-whaddya gonna a-do!?!?!?!!!?!!
Kyle Lowry would establish his 2nd triple-double this year (13, 11 rebounds and 12 assists), and he’d be one of 6 Raptors in double-figures. Frank Jackson finished with 20 points on 20 shots; pretty good considering a nasty fall he took in the first half. He’ll be sore tomorrow. Randle had 18, 9 rebounds and 7 assists; Cheick had 16 points, 12 rebounds, and Kenrich had 9 points (on 3 3s), 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. He’s so smooth.
Dairis Bertains update LOL
He’s in town! According to Jen Hale, he may play in Atlanta Sunday at 5 pm.
The newest @PelicansNBA Dairis Bertans is in the SKC! No, he won’t play vs the Raptors after his almost 24-hour ✈️, but he will travel to Atlanta w/the team & likely play Sunday. Gentry told Dairis he hopes he can shoot as well as his brother Davis. Dairis said “No, better.”— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) March 9, 2019