Playing against a depleted Pelicans lineup missing Anthony Davis and a number of other players, the Raptors won their second in a row to move to 7-3 with a (105-84) win Friday night.
Kyle Lowry had 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists, Jonas Valanciunas notched a 20-10 game with points and rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan had 15 points, six rebounds and neared his career-high with 11 assists.
DeMarre Carroll was back in the fold for the Raptors after missing a couple games with a sore foot and he brought the depth Toronto had been lacking with a further 11 points.
New Orleans meanwhile was missing Tyreke Evans (knee), Norris Cole (ankle), Quincy Pondexter (knee) and Kendrick Perkins (pectoral), who are off to their second-worst start in franchise history. Eric Gordon scored 30 but couldn’t do enough in the second half to keep it close.
With so many players on the pine New Orleans couldn’t sustain their hot start and gave up an early lead. Toronto chipped away and after scoring just 40 points in the first half hung a 32-point third quarter that put the Pelicans away.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey was especially pleased with the effort of his star centre, praising Jonas’ maturity.
“Jonas is growing up,” Casey told assembled media after the game. “Everybody wanted him to be a superstar when he first walked into the United States, and that’s hard to do in this league.”
“He’s learning situations, the game has slowed down for him and I think that’s the most important thing. Things are not as hectic when he catches the ball, or when pick and roll defences are happening. He’s done an excellent job with his pick and roll defence.”
Jonas Valanciunas played with heart and effort. After getting primed for the possibility of matching up with Anthony Davis, JV was dialed in and it showed with his 20-10 game. When he got dinged with a technical it was just nice to see him so emotionally invested in the game.
And possibly the Raptors highlight of the year happened on a fast break where Lowry lobbed it to DeRozan for a wicked leaning throw down.
Toronto got a much needed second straight win to end their brief homestand. Easy wins over Philadelphia and New Orleans should boost the club before their West coast swing for the next five games.
When the Raptors return they’ll host LeBron James, Tristan Thompson and the reigning Eastern champs Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 25th and NPH will be in the building. Catch you then!