In a thrilling match last night, J.J. Redick made a game-changing four-point play with just over a minute left to power the Pelicans to a win. He wrapped up his performance with a total of 23 points. Brandon Ingram was the night’s top scorer, contributing 24 points, helping the New Orleans Pelicans erase an 11-point deficit and snatch a 113-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
Zion Williamson showcased a powerful performance for the Pelicans in the latter half of the game, earning 15 points and ten rebounds. Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams made their inaugural appearances for the Pelicans and contributed 18 and 16 points, respectively. This win marked a successful debut for the Pelicans’ new coach, Stan Van Gundy, in New Orleans.
Reflecting on the game, Van Gundy commented, “I’d say we fought very hard in an incredibly frustrating game. We had too many turnovers and foul trouble; overall, things weren’t going our way. Despite that, we stayed determined, kept battling, and eventually made the plays and shots that allowed us to pull away.”
On the Raptors’ side, Pascal Siakam stood out with 20 points, while Kyle Lowry contributed 18 points and ten assists.
Given Canadian restrictions on cross-border travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Raptors are slated to play their first 17 “home” games at Tampa’s Amalie Arena. The schedule for the second half of the NBA season will be announced later.
During the second quarter, Lowry scored four 3-pointers, and Siakam’s consecutive 3-pointers helped the Raptors to establish their largest lead of the game at 11 points.
Redick scored a couple of 3-pointers toward the end of the second period, but the Pelicans found themselves trailing 57-50 at halftime.
Ingram emphasized the importance of Redick’s role for the Pelicans, stating, “His professionalism is invaluable, so we appreciate his presence. We’re especially grateful for his shooting abilities – when he’s open, he needs to get the ball.”
Early in the second half, a 9-0 run saw Lonzo Ball and Bledsoe land 3-pointers. Following this, Ball and Ingram were the sole contributors to a 10-2 run that concluded the third quarter, catapulting the Pelicans to an 88-79 lead. They scored a whopping 38 points in this period.
Toronto coach Nick Nurse said the third quarter “sapped our energy pretty big time. It seemed we lost some momentum and perhaps ran out of gas.”
The match saw about 3,800 spectators, and Siakam acknowledged the difference they made, saying, “I’m not sure if they were all Raptors fans, but it was great having people around. We’re blessed to have some energy in the crowd, and it improves the atmosphere.”
Raptors: The defeat snapped Toronto’s seven-game win streak in season openers. It was Lowry’s ninth consecutive opening-day start for the Raptors. The Raptors’ season-opening roster boasts seven undrafted players.
Pelicans: Williamson, who averaged only 27.8 minutes over 24 games in his injury-ridden rookie season, was benched with three fouls with 8:10 left in the first half but still managed to play for 30 minutes. The Pelicans shot 52.5% in the game and had a 45-35 rebound advantage.