The Toronto Raptors moved to 7-3 with a commanding win over the New Orleans Pelicans at the Air Canada Centre. DeMarre Carroll returned to action for the Raptors and proved to be very helpful, back into the starting line up he picked up 11 points and 5 rebounds. Pelicans All Star Anthony Davis missed his second game in a row with a hip injury and despite the Raptors starting slowly with just a 17 point first quarter the Pelicans began to fade. Once again the third quarter proved decisive for Toronto outscoring New Orleans 32-21 and going on to win 100-81.
Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas shared the top scorer honours with 20 points each while DeMar DeRozan put in 15 points and 11 assists. In the absence of Davis, Eric Gordon steped up for the Pelicans scoring 30 points while Jrue Holiday helped with 19. Some of Carroll’s best defence was on display at times, Alonzo Gee was held scoreless and Carroll would finish the game with a +20 impact. Another big win allowed most of the reserves for Toronto to see minutes. The battle of the boards went to Toronto 48-38, Valanciunas took 10 and was at times dominate in the paint both in rebounding and offence. The Pelicans held an 8 point lead during the second half but it was pegged back and the score was tied at 40 for the main break. It was in the third the Raptors really got away through a very balanced team effort as all 5 starters found points while managing to share the basketball, New Orleans were left with no response and the Raptors went on to win by 19.
Despite only putting up 17 first quarter points and again starting slowly the Raptors really found their rhythm in the third. Again the ball was shared as 4 of the 5 starters plus Patrick Patterson got into double figures. DeMar DeRozan took care of passing duties, gaining a double double with 11 assists and Valanciunas was forceful in the rebounding, taking 6 offensive rebounds to go with his 20 points.The highlights reel will be full of Raptors points, Lowry gave DeRozan a huge alley-oop on a fast break with about 3 minutes left in the third which sent the near capacity filled Air Canada Centre into a frenzy, less dazzling was the strong overall team performance which again carried the Raptors to a very convincing win.
The Raptors only gave up a total of 81 points in a defensive effort led by Carroll and Lowry. New Orleans were missing a number of key players and early on it seemed this would not be a problem for the away side as Eric Gordon got off to a hot start and finished with 30, however both he and the Pelican cooled off and Toronto took full advantage. DeMarre Carroll lived up to his reputation as a tough junk yard dog like defender, while Kyle Lowry ended up with 4 steals and 6 defensive rebounds. Despite being against a very injury ravaged opponent the Raptors came good on a solid defensive performance that carried them to victory.
The boards proved to be a key factor in the win, Valanciunas was dominant with 10, Bismack Biyombo pulled down 9 while both Lowry and DeRozan came away with 6. Every single player who saw minutes came away with at least 1. Going into the game a tough battle of the boards match up was expected but the Pelicans injury list meant the Raptors were able to take control of this aspect and continue to make rebounding a strong point.
Game Ball: Jonas Valanciunas.
If he had this kind of a game while Anthony Davis was on the floor then he might just of thrown himself into MVP contention, instead however he matched up on Omir Asik but was able to take full advantage of the opportunity. Against his fellow European Valanciunas was dominant, taking another double-double and playing solid defensively constricting Asik to 0-3 from the field. Four turn overs will take away from an otherwise near perfect performance. Aside from dominating the boards offensively Valanciunas finished the game on 8-11 in field goal shooting.