10 things I saw from Raptors-Pelicans (Nov. 15)

  1. Gritty performance: The Raptors rallied after yet another slow start where they coughed up seven turnovers in a 34-point first quarter for the Pelicans. It was mostly a messy game throughout, much like last week’s meeting, but the Raptors kept their cool and kept running their stuff, while the Pelicans melted down the stretch.
  2. Mind games: DeMarcus Cousins just lost his cool and was never quite in it despite yet another monstrous statline. He was mad at everything — at Jonas Valanciunas bodying him in the post, at Jakob Poeltl blocking him at the rim, at the officials for putting him in early foul trouble, at CJ Miles and Fred VanVleet for absolutely no reason at all. Cousins mostly traded in reckless drives into traffic and cared little for defense beyond lazy swipes and just simply giving up the lane for layups.
  3. Perseverance: Kyle Lowry is slowly finding his form. He came one assist shy of a triple double tonight and cracked 20 for the first time all year despite an awful start where his sloppy passing made him a minus-17 early on. As always, he played balls to the wall found a way. The little floor general had an assist to each of his other four starters, while also picking his spots to fire away from deep. Lowry was also everywhere as a help defender and ate a full-speed knee to the gut from Cousins (Lowry called it a love tap from a teddy bear) and was poked in the eye by Anthony Davis (he’s a great guy) for his efforts.
  4. Well-rounded: Yet another stellar performance from DeMar DeRozan, who did everything you could ever want from him. He got his teammates involved with 6 assists, confidently spotted up for two threes, was efficient from the field shooting 11–18, got into the paint repeatedly, played decent defense, was a steadying force when everyone else was struggling, and made shots in the clutch to close it out.
  5. Legit bigs: Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka were great against the most talented frontcourt in the league. Valanciunas was a monster in the pick-and-roll, put Davis and Cousins in foul trouble, then dominated their tiny substitutes in the post, while also getting all the way under Cousins’ skin. Ibaka closed out diligently on the perimeter and mostly kept Davis out of the paint.
  6. Bad news: Send some good vibes towards Delon Wright. He got his arm tangled up while contesting for a loose rebound with Cousins and immediately left the game clutching the right shoulder that he had surgery on last season. The locker room was optimistic after the game but we’ll see once they return home for tests.
  7. Next man up: You can pry those minutes away from Fred VanVleet’s cold, dead hands. He was solid yet again as he filled in for Wright. FVV’s made his open threes, played swarming help defense that bugged the hell out of Boogie, and walked straight to the basket for two layups in the fourth.
  8. Bench boost: The Pelicans kept losing track of CJ Miles and he capitalized. Playing more minutes with Lowry and DeRozan definitely helps, but it was a lot of sloppy defense. CJ was aggressive with the three (5–9) and even sneaked in for a dunk!
  9. Transition game: There isn’t a big in the league that runs the floor faster than Pascal Siakam. He gets two or three easy run outs per game.
  10. He’s a rookie: OG Anunoby had quiet game after his lockdown performance against James Harden. It’s completely normal for a rookie to have ups and downs.