Raptors make late push, but fall short against Pelicans


Eric Bledsoe capped a 19-point, 10-assist performance with a go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute, and the New Orleans Pelicans held on for a 120-116 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.

Brandon Ingram added 31 points, capped by four free throws in the last 13 seconds to seal the victory. Zion Williamson scored 21 points, highlighted by a pair of driving spin moves in the lane to set up left-handed leaners off the glass.

The Pelicans lost a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, briefly falling behind in the final four minutes, but were able clamp down defensively and limit the Raptors to just one point during the final 2:47 of regulation.

“The thing I like the best is our resilience,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s not easy to give up a double-digit lead with [8:30] to go and then go behind. A lot of teams sort of fade away at that point.”

WATCH | Pelicans down Raptors in high-scoring affair:

New Orleans Pelicans defeat Toronto Raptors 120-116, Brandon Ingram game-high 31 points. 0:44

Fred VanVleet scored 27 points and Chris Boucher added 24 for Toronto, which has opened the season by losing four of its first five games. Pascal Siakam scored 10 points, but fouled out with 8:30 remaining.

“He struggled, there was no doubt about it,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Siakam. “He had a few decent plays and a few good drives in there, but again he obviously struggled.”

The Pelicans led 101-89 when Josh Hart made a free throw just after Siakam fouled out.

But Kyle Lowry quickly responded with a three, igniting a 22-9 run that ended with threes by OG Anunoby, Powell and VanVleet to make it 111-110 with 3:16 to go.

Ingram’s free throws tied it at 113 with 1:08 left. And after Toronto lost the ball out of bounds, Bledsoe hit his pivotal left-wing three with 41.6 seconds left.

“I was kind of locked in,” Beldsoe said, noting that he expected Toronto to double-team Ingram and leave someone open on the perimeter. “I was just trying to stay ready and when I got the ball I was going to shoot it with confidence.”

Ingram scored 17 of his points in the first half, when he made three triples and helped the Pelicans maintain a slim lead for most of the first two quarters despite shooting 36.7 per cent (18 of 49) through the first 24 minutes.

Raptors not panicking yet

VanVleet scored 11 of his 21 first-half points during the last seven minutes of the second period to push Toronto in front late in the half. Lowry added a three from 30 feet away to put the Raptors up 60-50 before a three by Lonzo Ball and Steven Adams’ putback dunk trimmed it to 60-55 at halftime.

Although they’ve lost four of their first five games, the Raptors didn’t sound inclined to start panicking yet.

“Once we start winning some games and get a lot of minutes — good minutes — together as a team playing solid defence, and getting stops, and running, and things like that, you know, it’ll get back to normal,” Siakam said. “I just think that the game is focusing on little things and continuing to get better as a team and an individual.”

Van Gundy said he couldn’t play Williamson as much as he wanted to in the final few minutes because he had lost a timeout when he unsuccessfully challenged a foul called against New Orleans in the second half.

“I made a huge mistake in the game that you guys should all write about and criticize me for because you’ll sound like you really know what’s going on,” Van Gundy said, noting that even though he thought he might win the challenge, it was too risky to jeopardize what few timeouts he had left. “We should have never challenged that.”

Van Gundy explained that he felt matchups dictated removing Williamson in favor of having four perimeter players to defend in the final minutes, adding, “We couldn’t take a timeout to get [Williamson] back in on offence.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *