Limping Raptors host downed Pelicans


The Toronto Raptors win over the Philadelphia 76ers sure was a barn burner wasn’t it? Wasn’t it? The third quarter won the game, as Philly ran out of tricks. Giving up 57 first half points against the lowly 76ers is worrying, but being able to clamp it down in the second half instilled some confidence in the team (and fans).

Now the hobbled New Orleans Pelicans roll into town, as the last game before a daunting west coast road trip for the Raptors. Don’t forget the Pelicans were a 2015 Western Conference playoff team, but tonight they are without Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans.

As a Raptors fan you feel a certain way about this, as a Pelicans fan, you feel like this:

The Pelicans are coming off a close loss against the Atlanta Hawks. Point guard Jrue Holiday will return to the starting lineup for the Pels, but will be on a minutes limit. The Raptors will need to tread lightly since their opponent nearly took down the Hawks. The Pelicans defeated the Raps in the Air Canada Centre last year without Davis.

Most of the usage against Atlanta came from Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Ish Smith. Each of them put up solid numbers with great efficiency, but can they put together two spirited efforts in a row?

Jan 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik (3) dunks the ball as Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) looks on at Air Canada Centre. The Pelicans beat the Raptors 95-93. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Three keys to victory

Limit Turnovers

The Pelicans score over 15 points in transition per game. Since the Raptors have unfortunate problems with turnovers, this will be an important factor. Point Guard Ish Smith is one of the fastest guards in the league, so the key will be stopping him and the Pelicans before they can start. It helps that the best running big man in the association is out but they have a style, and it must be stopped.

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Slow down the pace

New head coach Alvin Gentry has this team running and gunning. The Pels rank 6th in pace this season, and will try to push for a fast-paced game rather than the half court pounding the Raps enjoy.

Attack, attack, attack

The Pelicans are not a good defensive team. Looking up and down their roster, there aren’t many defensive stoppers. The numbers aren’t shy, ranking them the worst efficient defence in the league. The Raptor guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan must stick to the plan and get to the hoop.  There won’t be much resistance inside and their weakness must be abused if the Raps will take this game.

Next: Time is up for Terrence Ross

Key players of the game

NOP: Toney Douglas; a late training camp pick up who is playing the best ball of his career in a reserve role.

TOR: Norman Powell; I just want to see him play, his strong showing against Philly should be just reason to get some run against New Orleans.


The Raptors squeeze out a close contest and eat a whole lotta McDonald’s breakfast before a long road trip.