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Quick Reaction

Quick Reaction: Raptors 125, Pelicans 116

Heck of a four-game set.

Toronto 125 Final
Box Score
116 New Orleans

B+
S. Ibaka29 MIN, 11 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 4-7 FG, 2-4 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 0 +/-

His impact came a little late to float his plus-minus, but he played better than the neutral rating would suggest. Was fairly active on defense, broke up a transition drive single-handedly, consistently forced his man toward help and digs, and even played cool head when Valanciunas and Anunoby were getting frustrated with the whistle.

C-
O. Anunoby14 MIN, 5 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-3 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -9 +/-

He had a rookie game. Youth comes with inconsistencies, and Anunoby was playing in his first ever back-to-back, a night after setting a career high in minutes. Picked up some tough fouls and struggled against pindowns and screens. Did have a few nice active plays tipping passes or picking up a steal tagging the roll.

A
J. Valanciunas29 MIN, 21 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 6-8 FG, 0-0 3FG, 9-9 FT, 2 BLK, 5 TO, 0 +/-

Does Valanciunas pay rent for the space inside Cousins’ head in which he resides? Give me more of this matchup, somehow, and give me more of the Raptors’ ball-handlers actively seeking out Valanciunas to attack a pair of bigs in foul trouble with little depth behind them. He seems to always get up for the cousins matchup, and it resulted in one of his best games of the season outside of some turnover issues.

A-
K. Lowry36 MIN, 22 PTS, 11 REB, 9 AST, 0 STL, 6-12 FG, 4-10 3FG, 6-6 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, -8 +/-

Started out slow with some sloppy passes and an uncharacteristically large first-half minus rating, but he really found a rhythm as the game went on. He was on the wrong end of two painful offensive fouls from Cousins (knee to gut) and Davis (eye gauge), some serious Ric Flair ish. Has a nice chemistry with Siakam developing. Really good to see him crack the 20-point barrier and sniff yet another triple-double. He’s figuring out his place.

A+
D. DeRozan34 MIN, 25 PTS, 9 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 11-18 FG, 2-4 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, 12 +/-

For a second night in a row, DeRozan was tremendous. He was better defensively here than a night earlier, even spending a couple of possessions on Davis. He passed actively early as he felt out where to get his shots, never really diverged from that balance, and wound up with one of the most balanced stat lines of his career. He’s looked really good with bench groups, and the Raptors are such a better defensive team when he and Lowry are cracking back to help on the glass.

A
P. Siakam24 MIN, 10 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 5-9 FG, 0-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 15 +/-

Stood toe-to-toe with Davis and more or less laughed off some trash-talk from the unibrowed veteran late. That’s some good stuff. Outside of that, he saw some time at small forward, flashed some good and bad passing (a late-clock dish to VanVleet that was great and an alley-oop attempt to Poeltl that was, uhh, not), and was a terror stretching things out in transition.

A-
F. VanVleet22 MIN, 10 PTS, 1 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 4-6 FG, 2-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 11 +/-

Looks like he’s found a groove at just the right time with a bigger opportunity awaiting him here. Clearly has Casey’s trust, and rewarded it with some better offensive play than he’s shown most of the year, with two nice drives and two triples. Some matchups won’t be great for him, but he’s maximized his impact for a couple of weeks now.

A+
C. Miles19 MIN, 17 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 6-11 FG, 5-9 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 13 +/-

Let the shooter shoot. Miles was instant offense once again, and it legitimately feels like when he’s hitting threes, the entire team’s confidence rises. Maybe he doesn’t need to crack 20 minutes if he’s going to put up 15-plus points in spot minutes? (He needs to play more, eventually.) Let the shooter shoot, man.

B+
J. Poeltl16 MIN, 3 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-2 FG, 0-0 3FG, 1-2 FT, 3 BLK, 0 TO, 7 +/-

Again, I ask, when was the last time Poeltl had a bad game? Even in a tough matchup for him with the hulking Cousins, Poeltl put up a good fight, and he was strong in help around the rim, even blocking Cousins. His hands and awareness are big on the offensive end, and he knows how to roll into space. Tough rebounding night, but otherwise, good work.

A
D. Wright10 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 8 +/-

Coming off of one of his best games of the season, Wright was off to a terrific start here, too. He may have been scoreless, but he was a terror poking balls loose on defense to kick-start the transition game. He took a charge on Davis, too, which proved costly for the Pelicans. Unfortunately, he suffered a right shoulder injury in the second quarter, didn’t return, and will be reevaluated in Toronto tomorrow. Ugh.

Inc
L. Nogueira3 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-

Looks to be out of the rotation for the most part at this point. Didn’t do anything wrong here, but Poeltl was solid again and Nogueira isn’t getting much run with Lowry, the guard with whom he has the best chemistry.

Inc
A. McKinnie3 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -2 +/-

The plus-minus god was a +4 in like a minute in the first half but came up on the wrong end of garbage time. Interested to see if he factors in at all if Wright and Powell both sit Friday.

A
Dwane Casey

I questioned rolling 12-deep with Powell out and using 11 guys in the first quarter, but on the second night of a back-to-back, it made some sense, and he had a quick hook for the players who didn’t have it. Smart rotations in the fourth I mostly took no issue with, though I’d still like to see how Miles looks with the closers. If he’s going to take the blame when the offense is gummed up, he gets the credit when they move the ball this well and this consistently. Heck of a four-game stretch for Casey’s charges.

Things We Saw

  1. It’s really difficult not to lose your mind when a team commits five turnovers in the first 3:39 of a game, leading to nine early points in a 13-6 start. The Raptors didn’t even give themselves an opportunity to play solid half-court defense early, scrambling to get back in transition on nearly every possession. First back-to-back of the season, and all, but give yourself a better chance out of the gate. Things settled in some from there, but New Orleans finished with 29 points off of 21 turnovers. Shrink that number a bit and the 117.9 D-Rating is much more impressive, because the Raptors did a great job in the halfcourt.
  2. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis each picked up three fouls by the middle of the second quarter, and the Raptors were plus-2 in four minutes with both of them on the bench in the resulting stretch. Credit Jonas Valanciunas for drawing a few high-leverage fouls early on. The Pelicans really struggle without those two, as you’d expect. Cousins was a -6 and Davis a -6 here after the Raptors rolled New Orleans with both on the floor last game. Good work in consecutive games, even if they got their numbers.
  3. If Delon Wright is going to miss serious time, I’m going to be very upset. He’s worked so hard to get back from the shoulder injury and is so much damn fun when he’s out there. Cross your fingers for him. If he’s going to miss time, you’d think Lorenzo Brown would be called up from Raptors 905, as the Raptors prefer to have three point guards handy at all times. Brown has his full 45-day allotment in the NBA still available to the team. Here’s hoping Wright’s okay.
  4. On Tuesday, I wrote here that we should see more Lowry-and-bench time. Which is true! I wanted to take a second to shout out DeRozan’s play leading bench-heavy units, too, groups that have historically struggled but that he’s found a nice groove with early on this season. He and Miles seem to have a decent chemistry already, and those DeRozan-and-bench minutes coming with Poeltl instead of Nogueira is a more natural fit (Nogueira tends to be a better fit with Lowry). DeRozan was awesome.
  5. Don’t look now, but the Raptors have crept to respectability from beyond the arc. They entered this game 23rd in 3-point percentage at 34.5 percent and hit 16-of-34 here. They don’t have to shoot an elite percentage, just enough to keep teams honest about the volume they’re shooting (about 31 per-game). They also tallied 27 assists a night after dishing 28.
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