Panzura postgame wrap: Pelicans 120, Raptors 116
Two home games into his career with New Orleans, Eric Bledsoe has shown a knack for delivering in the clutch. After blocking a shot to seal Sunday’s win over San Antonio last weekend, this time he buried a go-ahead three-pointer from the left corner Saturday, the decisive hoop of a win over Toronto. Bledsoe’s trey gave the Pelicans a 116-113 edge with 41 seconds left. New Orleans made free throws to ice the victory over the 2019 NBA champions.
New Orleans posted a second win in a 10-day span over Toronto, as the Pelicans swept a season series against the Raptors for the first time in six years.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Brandon Ingram sank two free throws with 2.6 seconds left, putting the Pelicans ahead by four. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry launched a 30-footer at the buzzer, but it caromed off the glass and rim to keep the final margin at four.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
The high-scoring New Orleans forward duo of Ingram and Zion Williamson played perhaps their best combined game of the early season. Their 52 total points came on 15/27 shooting from the field and 18/24 foul shooting. Ingram carried the Pelicans' offense for much of the first half, delivering 17 points prior to intermission, while Williamson tallied 15 points in the latter half. Both players were a handful for Toronto all game in preventing them from getting to the hoop.
BY THE NUMBERS
47: New Orleans attempts at the foul line, setting a franchise record in regulation. The Pelicans made 36 of them, a pivotal factor. Toronto fared well at the charity stripe too, but in much less volume, shooting 26/27.
51-39: Pelicans rebounding advantage. A Pelicans strength nearly every night so far, it was a huge help again Saturday, particularly in the first half.
0: Turnovers by Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball, a stat Stan Van Gundy mentioned during his postgame interview, commending the guards for being mistake-free against an aggressive Raptors defense.
Revisiting Three Keys to Victory
REPEAT THE PERIMETER D FROM DEC. 23
This was a mixed bag. After he struggled 10 days ago vs. New Orleans, Fred VanVleet broke loose this time for 21 points in the first half, but Lowry was mostly quiet. Despite VanVleet’s productive night (total of 27 points), New Orleans held Toronto to 14/48 three-point shooting (29 percent).
GUARDS STAY ON THE ATTACK
Bledsoe, Ball and Nickeil Alexander-Walker weren’t able to get nearly as many driving layups as they had Thursday in Oklahoma City, but Ball and Bledsoe were productive offensively nonetheless (and Bledsoe was excellent dishing the ball, with a season-high 10 assists). All of Alexander-Walker’s shots were three-point attempts (he went 1 of 5).
BOOST FROM THE BENCH
The New Orleans reserves were quiet early, scoring only five points in the first half, but ended up factoring into the home squad's surge early in the fourth period. Jaxson Hayes, JJ Redick and Josh Hart combined to drop in eight free throws in the first five minutes of that stanza, helping stake the Pelicans to a double-digit lead, before Toronto mounted a significant rally and briefly regained an edge on the scoreboard.