Too much Zion dooms Raptors vs Pels

We've seen both ends of the spectrum defensively over the last two games

The Raptors followed up their best defensive game of the season against the Cavs with arguably their worst. Toronto allowed a season-low 88 points against Cleveland. In comparison, New Orleans had 102 by the end of the third quarter.

Zion, Zion and more Zion

First of all, it’s great to see Williamson healthy. This was his 100th career NBA game, which illustrates how much time he’s missed considering Zion is in his fourth season. After Pascal Siakam made four baskets in rapid fire succession over the first two minutes, the Pelicans 22 year old superstar went to work.

First he drew O.G. Anunoby’s second foul just two and a half minutes into the game. Anunoby remained in but had to scale back to avoid an early third foul. Then Williamson picked apart a rather soft Raptors defence (11 pts, 4 ast in the first quarter) by getting to the rim at will or making the right reads to shooters such as Trey Murphy III, who made six threes and finished with 26 points.

The Raptors surrendered a 40 point quarter for only the second time this season, the other one being in Oklahoma City.

“We did about everything defensively as poor as we could tonight. We didn’t get to shooters early, then when we got to them they drove straight around us. We didn’t protect the rim at all. We didn’t rebound very well. It was a bad night for us defensively.”

Nick Nurse

New Orleans dropped that 40 ounce despite missing two proven scorers in Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum. The Pelicans have a deep roster and are now 13-8 despite having guys in and out of the lineup, good for third in the Western Conference.

The Pels lead ballooned to 27 by halftime, shooting 64 percent in the first half. Seconds into the third quarter, a very weak second technical was issued to Fred VanVleet which ended his night. Fred finished with only four points on 1-7 shooting. Nurse called both techs “ridiculous” postgame.

Here’s another example of Williamson doing whatever he wanted later on.

“I don’t know how many dunks and layups, there is nothing really you can say. It is what it is. We just got to move on and learn, We just have to know that every single night you have to have the focus and intensity and be who we are as a team. When we don’t do that, it shows.”

Pascal Siakam

Gary getting buckets

Yes, the game was mostly out of reach the entire second half but Trent getting back in rhythm is a welcome sign. Prior to coming off the bench against Cleveland, Gary was going through a four game slump where he shot 25 percent from the field and 10 from three. GTJ then rebounded in his first reserve role this season with 14 points, a season high seven rebounds and great energy on both ends.

Trent came off the bench again, providing instant offence with season-highs of 35 points and six threes. He helped cut a 31 point deficit to 11 but the Raptors didn’t get any closer.

Finishing what he started

The defensive intensity was much better in the fourth with solid minutes from Chris Boucher and Juancho Hernangomez. Toronto had a chance to get within single digits but a Siakam pass for Trent sailed out of bounds after a stop.

Shortly after, Zion put the final touches on his season-high 33 points.

Sidenotes: Christian Koloko started the second half in place of Thaddeus Young to match up better size wise with former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas. Toronto lost the rebounding battle 52-30.

Boucher took a hard fall after being blocked by Larry Nance Jr. in the final minutes. Boucher went to the locker room, but Nurse said that Chris is “okay.”

Up Next: In Brooklyn. Facing the Nets for the third time already this season on Friday. Brooklyn won the first two matchups.

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