The Toronto Raptors experienced some heartbreak on Valentine’s Day this year, falling 120-90 to the Pelicans for their second straight loss.
The loss drops the Raptors to 31-25 on the year and 15-12 on the road with just one game remaining before the All-Star break.
Things started ugly for the Raptors in this one and it would only get worse as the game continued, eventually shooting their worst percentage from the field on the season (30.5%). The Pelicans lead was 29-17 after the first, and it grew to 60-44 at the half. With the game close to out of reach in the third the Raptors needed a big run to get back in it, but instead were met with more poor shooting and a red-hot CJ McCollum. By the time it got to the fourth the game was well and truly over, as the Pelicans cruised to an easy-home win in what was undoubtedly one of the Raptors’ worst performances of the season.
Fred VanVleet was the best offensive performer on a night where there wasn’t much to choose from, scoring 20 points with 5 rebounds. Pascal Siakam struggled from the field but still managed 18 points, while the other three starters were only able to combine for 14. Montreal’s Chris Boucher was one of the lone bright spots off the bench, scoring 15 points along with 6 rebounds. The bench as a whole combined for 38, as Nurse loosened the rotation with the game getting out of hand.
McCollum looked right at home with his new team, scoring 23 points on 9/13 from the field with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Brandon Ingram was just two assists shy of a triple-double, finishing with 10-11-8 in 29 minutes. Former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas was dominant in stretches and finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Jaxon Hayes and Garrett Temple were efficient from off the bench, scoring 14 and 11 points respectively.
In many ways Monday night’s loss was a worst-case road game scenario. The Raptors looked out of it from the jump and couldn’t buy a basket while the Pelicans were red-hot. The only real saving grace for Toronto was grabbing 19 offensive rebounds, but that couldn’t make up for the 36-8 differential in the assist column.
It was one of those nights that you have to shake off, and they’ll have to do it quickly before their next game. The Raptors have lost two straight after their 8-game winning streak, and it will be important to get some positive momentum back before heading to the all-star break for the unofficial halfway point in the calendar.
The loss drops the Raptors out of the automatic playoff places into 7th, a game behind the Boston Celtics. Toronto still holds a 5-game cushion on 11th place Washington, keeping them safely in the play-in tournament picture for the foreseeable future.
The Raptors will travel to Minnesota on Wednesday to take on the Timberwolves, while the Pelicans will host the sizzling Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday on the second night of a back-to-back.
VanVleet – 20 PTS 5 REB 2 AST
Siakam – 18 PTS 5 REB 1 AST
Boucher – 15 PTS 6 REB 0 AST
McCollum – 23 PTS 4 REB 5 AST
Valanciunas – 18 PTS 9 REB 4 AST
Ingram – 10 PTS 11 REB 8 AST