After losing in double overtime less than 24 hours ago to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Toronto Raptors were back tonight in New Orleans. The fifth game of a six game road trip, plus the back to back, and the exhaustion was real on many fronts.
The team was tired from tip-off to final buzzer tonight.
The biggest blow for the Raptors came before the game even started, with RJ Barrett being ruled out due to managing his knee injury on a back to back game night.
Barrett missed three games last week with a sore knee, and after that extended run last night, he had to sit out tonight to avoid aggravating that injury further.
So that left the Raptors without one of their most dynamic players. It was Bruce Brown who slid into the starting lineup to replace Barrett. It was Brown, Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley, Jakob Poeltl and Gary Trent Jr. who started for Toronto.
The Pelicans on the other hand had Jonas Valenciunas, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum and Herb Jones to start.
It was Ingram who came out the gate running for New Orleans. When you add a 5+ minute scoring drought from the Raptors in the first quarter, it makes sense that the Toronto was down by 20 points very shortly into the game.
By the end of the first half, Ingram led all scorers with 21 points, and Williamson had 14 of his own points.
Brandon Ingram has 41 points on 95.6 TS% through 3 quarters.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) February 6, 2024
If he doesn't come back into this game, this will be the most efficient 30-point game of his career.
The Raptors on the other hand were diving deeper into their bench than they usually do, coming off that late game last night. By halftime, only two players were in double digit scoring — Jakob Poeltl with 10 points, and Gradey Dick with 15 points.
Gradey Dick’s career high before tonight was 16 points in an October game against the Philadelphia 76ers, and he was already approaching that in the first half.
Still, the Raptors went into the half down 17 points. Another blow — Gary Trent Jr. was ruled OUT at halftime with lower back stiffness.
The Raptors didn’t catch up much in the second half but you know who DID score a lot? Brandon Ingram! He scored 41 points on the night and didn’t even play most of the fourth quarter.
The Raptors never mounted a comeback and most of the fourth quarter ended up being garbage time.
Gradey Dick ended up having a career night though, scoring 22 points and logging the most minutes in a game of his career so far. He shot 4-8 from three and 8-16 from the field.
Gradey Dick tonight:— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) February 6, 2024
22 PTS (career-high)
30 MIN (career-high)
Dick had 15 of his 22 points in the first half.
Dick was the only Raptor to score 20+ points, played the most minutes in the entire game for any Raptor. After having a slow start to the season, playing a lot with the Raptors 905, and going through a lot of training and work — it is nice to see him getting more minutes.
For the moral victories crowd, Dick developing into a better NBA player is good for the longterm future of the Raptors. Hopefully he can have more games like this as we wind down in the season.
The Raptors ended up losing to the Pelicans 138-100. It was the largest deficit of the season for Toronto at 38 points.
The team will now have tomorrow off before playing their last game of this road trip on Wednesday in Charlotte.