During a season-opening matchup Oct. 22 in Canada, New Orleans nearly pulled off a road upset, which would’ve spoiled Toronto’s championship ring night. The Pelicans appear to have gained the Raptors’ full attention, because Toronto came out ready to play and then some in Friday’s rematch, building a huge first-half lead en route to victory in the Smoothie King Center.
Raptors No. 1 option Pascal Siakam – who registered 34 points against the Pelicans on Oct. 22 – kept pouring in the points, surpassing the 30-point plateau in the middle of the third quarter Friday and ultimately tying his career high with 44.
Toronto raced to a 38-14 edge in fast-break points, an area Alvin Gentry addressed multiple times after the game.
“We’ve got to get back and be able to set (our defense),” Gentry said. “We’ve got to run back and pick up a man.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
OG Anunoby canned a corner three-pointer to give Toronto a 108-92 lead with five-plus minutes remaining, quelling the New Orleans momentum that had come from a surge back within shouting distance of the lead. Toronto led by 25-plus for much of the third quarter, before New Orleans put together a mini-run to get its deficit back under 20.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Brandon Ingram compiled another big scoring night (team-best 27 points), but rookie guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker was very instrumental in the fourth quarter, helping to give New Orleans an outside chance of threatening the lead. The Toronto native had his best half of the regular season, scoring all of his 13 points after intermission, including sinking three three-pointers. Alexander-Walker handed out four assists in only 16 minutes of action.
BY THE NUMBERS
10/41: New Orleans three-point shooting. As much as the Pelicans were outplayed in various categories Friday, the Raptors also took major advantage of an edge in accuracy from beyond the arc (19 of 43).
28:32: Combined playing time Friday for Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, both of whom exited early due to injuries.
45-23: Toronto second-quarter advantage on scoreboard, which turned a 30-all deadlock into a 75-53 halftime margin.
For all 14 Friday games during New Orleans’ regular season, a Pelicans fan poll question will be asked on Twitter. The second question of 2019-20 was “The Pelicans will play a weekend back-to-back against two opponents that have surpassed many outside expectations early in 2019-20. Which NBA team has been the biggest surprise to you and why?” Phoenix was the hands-down winner, garnering more than half of the votes, despite three other candidates that are off to encouraging starts. Some of the best responses in the survey:
SUNS (63 percent)
From @lakeshowvibes: I definitely didn’t see Phoenix looking that good offensively and defensively this year.
HEAT (23 percent)
From @dreadybuckets: 2 words. Tyler. Herro.
HORNETS (10 percent)
From @Jim_Eichenhofer: Many analysts predicted that Charlotte would be the worst team in the league, given that the Hornets appeared in several power rankings at No. 30.
RAPTORS (4 percent)
From @Craig235667: I thought Toronto would fall off a cliff personally (and they still might).