The Toronto Raptors once again went up against an undermanned New Orleans Pelicans team and once again, they lost 100-97. After destroying the Eastern Conference’s best team on the road, the Raptors have now put up two straight disappointing performances against shorthanded opponents.
The Raptors came out of the gate on fire, putting up 28 points and holding the offensively challenged Pelicans to only 17 points. The Pelicans, missing their three best offensive threats in Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Ryan Anderson came out the more hungry team in the second half, slowly but surely chipping away at the lead in the third and ultimately winning the game in the fourth.
The lone bright spots for the Raptors on the night was the efficient performances of both Jonas Valanciunas and James Johnson. Valanciunas finished with 17 points and 14 boards on 50% shooting, while James Johnson racked up 15 points on 70% shooting.
This was truly an ugly loss, and it certainly doesn’t get easier as the Raptors will head west to take on the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow night in Dallas.
Other than the individual performances of Valanciunas and James Johnson, the Raptors don’t have much at all to hang their hat on when it comes to the offensive side of the ball coming out of tonight’s game. The team shot a very poor 41% from the field and an abysmal 5 for 23 from beyond the arc.
While shooting touch may come and go, the team has absolutely no excuse for the lack of ball movement. The team was only able to muster up a measly 13 assists for the entire ball game. The Raptors chance to take the lead late is a a microcosm of their performance. Kyle Lowry took the ball and went full ISO mode, only to get stuffed at the rim by Omer Asik.
Finally, while forcing 17 turnovers is a great sign, only scoring 13 points off of them shows a lack of execution. Plain and simple.
Those 17 turnovers the Raptors forced were the only thing keeping them from getting another D here. The Raptors allowed a team whose entire offense was nearly wiped out to put up 51% from the field and 45.5% from deep. A team missing game breaking offensive talents has to get their points off of working together, and that’s exactly what the Pelicans did, racking up 27 dimes for the night.
The Raptors also allowed one of their former castoffs Alexis Ajinca to dominate them inside, putting up 16 and 9 on 8-12 shooting. They also allowed the Luke Babbitt to score a team leading 18 points on a blistering 7-9 including 4-7 from the land beyond. When those two guys are the reason your team lost, that speaks volumes on how they performed on that given night.
The Pelicans play a big and bruising brand of basketball, and it showed tonight. The Pelicans out-rebounded the Raptors 48 to 40 in total boards. They also mopped the floor with them on the defensive glass pulling down 36 in comparison to the Raptors 24. The Raptors got outmuscled.
Game Ball: Luke Babbitt
It may be one of the only he gets in his career, but tonight Babbitt sunk the Raptors. He shots when they mattered, hitting the go-ahead three ball. It also helps that the Raptors gave incredible amounts of daylight to aim a lot of those looks.