The fatigue from last night’s victory in Houston showed early on tonight as the Raptors committed five turnovers in the opening minutes. However, thanks to another magnificent offensive showing, they managed to pull away in the second half to defeat New Orleans 125-116 on the road.
Things were sloppy in the early going, but Toronto was on fire throughout, shooting 59% from the field and 47% from distance in an offensive effort rivaled only by their output yesterday. DeRozan, who made 2-of-4 three-pointers tonight, led the team with 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and had tremendous help from Jonas Valanciunas in the post (21 points) and Kyle Lowry, who finished one assist shy of a triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and nine dimes.
Rookie forward OG Anunoby played well enough in his second consecutive start but didn’t have the standout game he enjoyed last night against Harden and the Rockets. The story of tonight was undoubtedly the effort from the other youngsters, as Anunoby played just 14 minutes in a mindful move by Dwane Casey to limit the minutes of his rookie in back-to-backs in order to avoid complications with his knee injury.
Speaking of complications, Delon Wright left the game in the second quarter after injuring his right shoulder while battling for a rebound. The shoulder is the same which was surgically repaired, and the team declined to comment further than confirming that he would miss the rest of the contest. Wright finished with four assists and three steals in ten minutes of action.
In his stead, Fred VanVleet finished with 10 points and three assists in 22 minutes and was a big part of the bench unit that helped the Raptors pull away toward the end of the third quarter. On the back of great defensive execution from the group, Toronto finished the third on a 22-7 run and enjoyed a 12 point lead heading into the fourth.
The defensive effort continued in the final frame as the bench unit opened up the game for good. CJ Miles shot the lights out, finishing with 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench, making 5-9 from deep and 6-11 overall. His offense along with the defensive effort from Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl were the difference makers late in the game. Siakam, who finished with 10 points off the bench, played nearly the entire fourth quarter and used his length and speed to keep Anthony Davis in check on multiple plays.
By the midway point of the fourth, both Davis and Cousins were visibly frustrated and it showed on the court with missed shots, unforced errors and multiple balls being slammed onto the hardwood. Without any offensive production from the two bigs, the lead ballooned to 17 points and Toronto never looked back.
Toronto now heads home at 9-5 to host a new-look Knicks team on Friday, when they’ll look to improve to 5-1 at the ACC.