Pelicans seek another win over Raptors

02 Jan 2021 / 07:04 H.

    The New Orleans Pelicans' season got off to a good start when they went on the road and beat the Toronto Raptors in their opener.

    The Raptors needed a few more chances before they got their first win.

    The two teams meet again as the Pelicans get their chance to host the finale of the season series Saturday.

    Toronto started well enough in the opener, taking a 57-50 halftime lead, but it got outscored 38-22 in the third quarter and lost 113-99 on Dec. 23.

    The Raptors followed that with losses to San Antonio and Philadelphia before getting the elusive first win against visiting New York, 100-83 on Thursday.

    The 0-3 start was just the second one in the history of a franchise that won the NBA championship two years ago and finished last season with a 53-19 record.

    "It just feels good because that first win is hard to get in any season," said guard Fred VanVleet, who led the way against the Knicks with 25 points. "Losing three in a row at any time of the season is not acceptable around here. Enough is enough. It was time to get a win."

    Toronto coach Nick Nurse benched forward Pascal Siakam, who prematurely walked off the court when he fouled out late in the loss to the 76ers two nights earlier. Nurse described the "disciplinary" action as "internal" and wouldn't elaborate.

    The Raptors attacked the paint aggressively against the Knicks and that opened up 3-point shooting opportunities. They took advantage by making 17 of 52 from beyond the arc while the Knicks made just three of 36.

    "I thought our guys did a much better job of attacking to put some pressure on the paint," Nurse said.

    New Orleans (3-2), which has alternated wins and losses through five games, beat host Oklahoma City 113-80 on Thursday. Brandon Ingram scored 20 points to lead seven Pelicans in double figures even though he was ejected in the third quarter after a flagrant foul.

    "Early in the year, we're trying to get better," first-year coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We've been struggling offensively so it was good to see the ball go in the basket. It was good to score some points."

    The Pelicans, who outrebounded the Raptors 45-35 in the first meeting, outrebounded the Thunder 58-40, as guard Josh Hart, who scored 12 points, came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds and former Oklahoma City center Steven Adams added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

    "With Brandon going out, somebody had to pick it up," guard Eric Bledsoe said. "I thought the whole team did."

    The Pelicans outscored the Thunder 28-7 in the fourth quarter, tying a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a fourth quarter, and led by as many as 33 points.

    "I thought our defense was pretty good overall," Van Gundy said. "It was just a good night and we need to keep moving forward. The games come fast and furious here."

    This game starts a four-game homestand for New Orleans, which played four of its first five games on the road during a seven-day span.

    --Field Level Media

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