Raptors put clamps on Pelicans’ dynamic duo
TORONTO 122, NEW ORLEANS 118
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.