Rap­tors put clamps on Pel­i­cans’ dy­namic duo


National Post (Latest Edition) - - SPORTS - Mike Gan­ter mgan­ter@post­media.com

It wasn’t the all- star twin tow­ers that gave the Toronto Rap­tors prob­lems.

An­thony Davis and DeMar­cus Cousins were held in check for the most part as the Rap­tors and New Or­leans Pel­i­cans hooked up for the first of two meet­ings this sea­son that will come within a one-week span.

In­stead, it was guard Jrue Hol­i­day who gave the Rap­tors fits, go­ing off for 34 points in the game. But they even­tu­ally got Hol­i­day un­der con­trol thanks to rookie O.G. Anunoby, as well, and won their third in the past four games with a hard- fought 122-118 tri­umph over the vis­it­ing Pel­i­cans.

De­fence was an is­sue on both sides, al­though you can’t blame the Rap­tors for de­vot­ing ex­tra at­ten­tion to Cousins and Davis. Yes, it came at the ex­pense of some ex­tra space for Hol­i­day and, to his credit he took ad­van­tage of that early. But if a team can hold the Davis/ Cousins combo to a com­bined 36 points in a night, you should win that game and the strat­egy and the hard work by Toronto’s big men paid off.

Cousins came into the game as the fourth- lead­ing scorer in the NBA, av­er­ag­ing 28.9 points. Davis was sixth at 28.4 a night.

Credit, at least pri­mar­ily, Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas for a sti­fling job on Cousins, and Serge Ibaka for han­dling the much craftier Davis. Yes, they had help, but it started with those two and they de­serve the bulk of the credit.

Jakob Poeltl de­serves men­tion here, too, giv­ing up plenty in the weight depart­ment to Cousins, but did a fine job on the Ken­tucky load when he was called upon.

Cousins was good on just 8-of-24 at­tempts in the game, while Davis was good on 5-of13.

Just as im­por­tant was the Rap­tors’ de­fence on these two from be­hind the arc, where they were a com­bined 3-for14.

Hol­i­day filled the void some­what with 14 makes on 20 at­tempts, but that was much more palat­able than Cousins and Davis go­ing off, which they have been do­ing with reg­u­lar­ity of late.

Of­fen­sively, the Rap­tors got 33 points from DeMar DeRozan and im­proved to 7-4 on the sea­son. Once again, coach Dwane Casey used all 12 dressed Rap­tors, a trend that will con­tinue un­til some­one plays their way out of the ro­ta­tion.

Anunoby was lim­ited to just seven min­utes in the early go­ing, but he made an im­pact with six points in that short time and brought some tough­ness to the floor at the same time. Late in the game when Casey went look­ing for some­one to put the clamps down on Hol­i­day, it was the rookie he turned to and he did the job, fin­ish­ing the game with the starters in place of C. J. Miles, with de­fence a much big­ger need than more of­fence on this night.

Lu­cas Nogueira was lim­ited to just two min­utes all night af­ter pick­ing up three fouls in just one minute in the first half. He got back on the floor briefly in the fourth, but that was the end of his night as Casey went back to his starters along with the rookie Anunoby.

The Rap­tors will now have two days to get ready to face the Celtics in Bos­ton, where they will be­gin a three-game road swing on Sun­day with a rare af­ter­noon road con­test.


Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas looks to block New Or­leans cen­tre DeMar­cus Cousins at the Air Canada Cen­tre on Thurs­day.

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