Season Series: Raptors 1-0
The good thing about back-to-backs is they force you to forget about the last game and focus on the challenge ahead. Fresh off an overtime-loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night, the Toronto Raptors are in New Orleans and hoping to dust off their shoulders to get back on track against the Pelicans.
The last time these teams met, Kyle Lowry had a 19-point, 12-assist double-double and DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points as the Raptors downed the Pelicans 108-101. Amir Johnson missed the game because of an ankle injury and Patrick Patterson scored 22 points starting in his place.
What To Watch
All Anthony Davis everything: It’s terrifying to consider that Anthony Davis turned 21 a week ago. Davis recently put in a career-best performance in an overtime win against the Boston Celtics, posting a cool 40 points and 21 rebounds… making 14 of his 22 field goal attempts. While the Pelicans are in the throes of a rebuild, there isn’t a better big-man building block than Davis. Already far removed from the postseason race, New Orleans is playing for pride now and Davis plays every game like he has plenty to prove.
Toronto’s ailing big men: After leaving Tuesday night’s game against the Hawks with a lower back sprain, Jonas Valanciunas’ availability against the Pelicans is unknown. He is receiving treatment and will be reevaluated prior to game time. Amir Johnson rolled his ankle on the final play of regulation against the Hawks. Johnson has played through numerous injuries and ankle sprains, but the challenge of containing Davis just got tougher.
DeMar DeRozan handling extra attention: Along with being named an NBA All-Star comes recognition around the league. This is a good thing, but along with having everyone know your name —and game— comes more attention from opponents. When a team is game-planning to stop you, you see their top defenders and they try to deter you from attacking the basket. DeMar DeRozan has been fantastic at getting to the line this season, but as the playoffs creep closer, teams have been getting more physical with him.
– “It’s just [the defender] being physical and trying to get me off my sweet spot where I usually get the ball. It’s something to learn from and get prepared for the playoffs and how teams are going to try to play me.” – DeMar DeRozan on the physical play he has been seeing from defenders since the All-Star break
– “Guys have got to be ready to step up. When a person is down the next guy has got to be ready to come on and play.” – Amir Johnson on dealing with injuries and guys being out
– “It’s the NBA. It’s a long season. We have 15 guys under contract. They’ve got to step in and do things and produce. Where it hurts us is scoring the ball. It’s going to put a bigger load on DeMar, Kyle and Terrence.” – Dwane Casey on the bench having to step up and needing to rely on DeRozan, Lowry and Terrence Ross
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Amir Johnson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Pelicans: Brian Roberts (G), Eric Gordon (G), Tyreke Evans (F), Anthony Davis (F), Greg Stiemsma (C)
Raptors: Patrick Patterson – right ulnar collateral sprain (out), Jonas Valanciunas – sprained lower back (questionable)
Pelicans: Ryan Anderson – herniated disc (out), Jrue Holiday – right tibia, stress fracture (out), Jason Smith – right knee cartilage (out)
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Pelicans
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Last Time They Met: Raptors 108, Pelicans 101 - Feb. 10th, 2014