After giving up 121 points to Phoenix and 118 points in Atlanta, the Toronto Raptors will be challenged to find the defensive discipline necessary to pull out a win on Wednesday in New Orleans.
Toronto gave up quarters of 29 points and 31 points after the Pelicans allowed the Raptors to race out to a 31-20 first quarter lead a month ago. The Raptors won that game 108-101, but they allowed 50.6 percent shooting from the field and only held on for the win because of their free throw advantage.
In Toronto, the Pelicans were led by Tyreke Evans off the bench with 23 points and 10 assists. Anthony Davis was held in check by the physical play of Patrick Patterson, who started in place of Amir Johnson, but this time, Patterson isn’t available and Johnson will have the task (assuming his foot hasn’t swollen up over night after tweaking it in Atlanta). Patterson was also the Raptors leading scorer with 22 points in that game.
It was a high scoring affair last time and these often do not turn out in Toronto’s favor.
The 27-39 Pelicans are primed for the kind of defense-optional game that gives the 37-29 Raptors problems. They are averaging just under 113 points per game over their last 6 contests in which they have gone 4-2. On Sunday, Davis had 40 points and 21 rebounds in a 121-120 overtime victory over Boston.
The best way to beat the Pelicans is to hold them under 100 points like the Grizzlies did a week ago, but this young team is having fun scoring, so any defensive discipline is going to have to come from the other team. Based on how the Raptors have been playing recently, they are going to have their work cut out for them.
Toronto could also be missing the services of Jonas Valanciunas who left Tuesday’s game in Atlanta with a sprained lower back. The Pelicans are missing Ryan Anderson, Jason Smith and Jrue Holiday.
Hard Coaching Is Making Austin Rivers Better
“That is who (Williams) is, he is very competitive and he demands a lot which is fine because he wants the best out of all of us,” Rivers said. “Especially because we are young – especially on the point guards, he is really hard on me and Brian (Roberts). Which is great because he wants us to get better and he knows if we get better, this team will get better and that’s just who he is.”