By: Josh Weinstein
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Another strong offensive performance propelled the Raptors over the Pelicans 125-116 at Smoothie King Center on Wednesday night. It’s the first time in franchise history the Raps have scored 125 points or more in consecutive games, which is further proof that when shots are falling in the team’s revamped pace and space offence, it’s a pretty sight to behold. The feat is even more impressive considering Toronto was on the second night of a back-to-back.
Kyle Lowry has started looking like the Lowry of old, finally. After a slow start to the season, Lowry finally eclipsed the 20-point mark and finished one assist shy of a triple-double (22 points, 9 assists, 11 rebounds) in the W. What a welcome sight it is to see Lowry comfortable in his new role within the Raptors offence.
C.J. Miles was an offensive sparkplug off the bench for a second straight outing, hitting five three-pointers in just 18 minutes of action. When Miles shot is falling, it opens up the floor up that much more for Toronto, allowing for a potentially lethal inside-out game. Valanciunas took advantage of the Pelicans spread out defence, attacking inside to create free throw opportunities (9/9 from the line) and high-percentage looks (6 of 8 FGs).
DeMar DeRozan finished with a team-high 25 points. He certainly could have attacked more and taken more than 18 shots, but realized with Miles and the rest of the Raptors having such a hot shooting night, distributing was the best course of action to take.
Not only were the Raps getting whatever looks they wanted on the offensive end (47 percent on threes, 27 assists), but their defensive gameplan against the Pelicans big men worked as well as it did the first time these two teams met.
Toronto invited DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis to shoot jumpers, so long as it meant both stayed outside of the paint. Jonas Valanciunas, in particular, did a stellar job of keeping Cousins outside of the paint once again. Whenever Valanciunas matched up with Cousins this season, the Lithuanian surprisingly won the matchup.
As mentioned in our game preview, Cousins and Davis are always going to get their numbers, but it’s a matter of making them work hard for everything and letting them beat you outside rather than in the paint that makes the difference by game’s end. After two meetings with the Pelicans, the Raptors’ bigs and coaching staff should be proud of how well they limited them.
Unfortunately, Toronto’s win did come at a cost. Delon Wright headed to the locker room with a shoulder injury after reaching over Cousins to try and haul in an offensive rebound. Wright did not return and will be evaluated in Toronto. Fred VanVleet will fill in as Lowry’s backup while Wright is out. The Raptors hope their backup point isn’t out indefinitely, considering how well he’s played as a leader of the bench unit.
The Raptors are back in action when they host the New York Knicks on Friday.