Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from win vs New Orleans Pelicans

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images) /

On Friday night we saw the Toronto Raptors brush aside the New Orleans Pelicans with a fantastic second half display on both ends of the court. What did we learn from the game, though?

The Toronto Raptors traveled to the Big Easy looking to bounce back from two straight defeats. Defeating the New Orleans Pelicans wouldn’t be easy, though. The Raptors had dropped two straight games against the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets and as long as Anthony Davis is a member of this team, it will never be easy.

Low and behold, we learned prior to the game that Davis wouldn’t suit up for Pelicans on Friday night, nor would All-Defensive First Team point guard, Jrue Holiday. The Raptors really were dealt a strong hand heading into this game, maybe things would be a little easier.

If there was any game that was a candidate for a Kawhi Leonard “load management” absence, this would be it. Alas, Leonard was present for the game, and how.

In a fairly casual first quarter, where the Raptors were heaving more Hail Mary’s than Aaron Rodgers, Kawhi Leonard had 14 of the Raptors 29 points in the first quarter. Still, the Pelicans led by two, shooting 42-percent from three and beating the Raptors just as easily in the paint.

Scoring was well and truly on the agenda for both teams, with seventeen (17!) lead changes in the first half alone. The Raptors settled a little in the second quarter, courtesy of some solid defense from the bench, which attributed to 24 fast break points for Toronto while forcing nine turnovers from the Pelicans.

Kawhi Leonard carried on his scoring tear and added another 10 points in the second quarter, with 24 points on 11-13 shooting at the end of the first half. Pascal Siakam, despite a tough match-up against Julius Randle, was starting to find his rhythm and had 11 points and added a steal and a block on the defensive end. Most importantly, the Raptors led by three points, despite the copious amounts of lead changes.

The third quarter was a stark reminder of how good this Raptors team really can be on both ends of the court, outscoring the Pelicans 29-19. Their first play of the second half was a Kyle Lowry outlet pass to Pascal Siakam for the slam dunk. Lowry made a concerted effort to get the ball moving and having the Raptors play team-orientated ball. Hats off to Jeremy Lin too, who finally hit his first three-pointer as a Toronto Raptor.

The Raptors ran away with the game in the fourth quarter, and it made you wonder why it was even a contest for as long as it was. The bench unit and Kyle Lowry killed off the Pelicans in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 34-24. Kawhi Leonard wasn’t even on the floor in the fourth quarter, and we saw Jeremy Lin make his second three-pointer! THE FLOODGATES HAVE OPENED.

If that doesn’t tell you enough about how the game went then I don’t know what you want. In fact, I’ll just leave this here. What a block from Chris Boucher, who summed up the game in one play. (per

Takeaways. I’ll give you takeaways. Here’s three of them, from the blowout in the Big Easy.

1. Kawhi Leonard manages the scoring load

Kawhi Leonard flexed his muscles once again, and unfortunately for the Pelicans, it worked. Leonard had a ridiculous 31 points on 70-percent shooting, all in 27 minutes work. Leonard didn’t even see the floor in the fourth quarter, his work was done.

Kawhi can score in a variety of ways, all of which were on show last night. We saw him score in transition, in isolation, from deep, and at the rim. All like it was the easiest thing in the world. Leonard is one of the best scorers in the NBA, period. The fact that he does it with such efficiency makes him that bit more dangerous too. It’s exciting to have that sort of presence come playoff time.

2. Teamwork makes the dream work

The Raptors moved the ball about freely all night, it felt like a casual scrimmage at times. We saw Kyle Lowry attempt a few deep outlet passes, some were a lot better than others.

It was a good night for ball movement for Toronto. The team had 31 assists on 53 made field goals, and everyone who played more than five minutes, with the exception of Norman Powell had an assist in the game. Seven of those players had more than one assist, and Kyle Lowry had 10, culminating in his twelfth triple-double of his career.

A lot of their assists came on the break, thanks to some stout defense. The Raptors outscored the Pelicans in fast break points 53-15, meaning they limited the transition opportunities for New Orleans and did most of their damage on the break. Toronto held the Pelicans to 41-percent shooting from the field and forced them into 17 turnovers, scoring 25 points off of those turnovers.

Everything went right for the Raptors in the second half.

3. Jeremy Lin bounces back

Not only did everything go right for the team as a whole, but it also went exceptionally well from Jeremy Lin, who had a big bounce back game after struggling for the past two games. Though, struggling is probably an understatement.

Lin had 3 points in his last 35 minutes of basketball heading into this game, you don’t need me to tell you that that just isn’t good enough.

How about 14 points in 22 minutes of action against the Pelicans then? That did the trick nicely for Lin, who went 6-9 from the field and 66-percent from three, draining two deep balls. One of which was a pull-up jumper in transition, that came as a shock.

Lin was aggressive in getting his shot, something he hasn’t really been yet, so that was great to see. He still had three assists and played fairly decent defense all evening.

It was the performance the Raptors needed from Lin, who is still the lead guard in Fred VanVleet’s absence.

Next. Can Patrick McCaw make the Raptors playoff rotation?. dark

Make sure to check out our takeaways after each game at