CJ Miles had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting — including 3 of 4 from the three-point line — off the bench for Toronto (4-1). Malachi Richardson had 21 points, Kay Felder had 15 and both Jordan Loyd and Eric Moreland had 12 apiece.
Anthony Davis paced the Pelicans (0-5) with 36 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. Julius Randle also had a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic, Jrue Holiday and ETwaun Moore were in double-digits at 15, 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Raptors took a 67-64 lead into halftime as Siakam banked in a hook shot with 2.4 seconds. Toronto never looked back, streching its advantage to as much as 15 in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans cut the lead to two at 111-109 with 7:39 left, but Toronto finished the game on a 23-10 run.
Torontos Chris Boucher was helped to the locker-room with just more than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter after a collision with Davis as both players jumped for a rebound. Boucher fell and his head appeared to hit the court. He stayed down a couple minutes while he received treatment.
Whether or not he should start is another story, and our man Daniel Hackett covered it perfectly in this Twitter thread from last night: Valanciunas should be the starter. And if Ibaka doesnt like the bench, or ends up having a significantly reduced role? Hell have to deal. The Raps cant concern themselves with Serges ego or what his contract status merits, because this is an all-in year, and if starting JV and reducing Serges overall role gives you the better chance to win, thats what you do.
Toronto rested stars Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry as well as regulars Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, Danny Green and Fred Van Vleet.
I had hoped Chris Boucher—who grew up in Montreal—might get the start, much the same way Kyle Collinsworth did last week against Utah. Alas, it was more important to get OG Anunoby some work, so Boucher didnt get in until garbage time—but he got a fantastic ovation when he did. And then he delivered! He nailed two roof-raising three-point bombs and had a nice block in his seven minutes.
The Pelicans, meanwhile, utilized their full squadron, including starters Davis, Holiday, Moore, Mirotic and Elfrid Payton, as well as Randle in reserve.
Raptors shut down Nets in Montreal
Norman Powell, who is dealing with left IT band tenderness, and Delon Wright, who is nursing a strained left thigh muscle, both sat out for Toronto.
Toronto Raptors: Grades from a pull away win against the Brooklyn Nets
The Raptors went to Montreal for the last home game of the preseason on Wednesday night, and the fans showed up to bring a true home court advantage as they took on the Brooklyn Nets. With OG Anunoby rejoining the team this week and being available for the first time this preseason, this was the first look at a fully healthy Raptors team, and the rust showed through, but so did the talent and potential of this team.
The duo of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet is every analytics persons dream. A lot of players in the NBA now specialize in the corner three, but couldnt hit a three from any other zone to save their lives. Only five players in the NBA last season attempted more than 500 above the break threes. Kyle Lowry was one of them and he had a success rate of 39% (only ranking behind Kemba Walker 39.1%). It wasnt a fluke; the previous season he shot 42.5% from that area (1.3% better than Steph Curry).
Nets complete preseason with Knicks at the Garden
The first glimpse at what might be the team’s starting lineup may have come in this game, when Nick Nurse went with a group of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka to open the game, and the group showed flashes of what they could be, but gave up an early lead that they couldn’t quite claw back from as they struggled with early turnovers, Lowry in particular having four in the first frame, and some shotmaking from the young nets. Caris LeVert, DeAngelo Russell and Jarrett Allen led the way the for the visiting team as they jumped out to an 8-point lead after the first quarter, and for the critics of using Ibaka ahead of last year’s starting center Jonas Valanciunas, this quarter showed the merits of going in the other direction. Ibaka doesn’t bring Valanciunas’ presence in the screening game or on the boards, and the offense was sluggish in the halfcourt despite the talent the team fielded.
Towards the end of the first quarter and into the second, Valanciunas came in with the bench lineup, and they found some success, but again, it wasn’t the dominant bench mob of a year ago in the first half, and the Raptors came into halftime with a three-point deficit.
Recap: TorontoRaptors down the New Orleans Pelicans, 134-119
In the second half, Nurse changed the starting group, opting to go back to Valanciunas, and swap Anunoby for Pascal Siakam, and the players responded immediately with the Raptors reeling off a 27-6 run to take control of the game, keyed by dominant defense and scoring some easy transition buckets. Lowry ended up getting himself ejected during the second half, an ejection you could see coming with his chirping at the referees throughout the game, but the Raptors didn’t skip a beat as Anunoby showed the progress he’s made during the summer defensively, and he and Leonard found some chemistry defensively where they frustrated the Nets while also delivering a highlight reel play together late in the game.
For Leonard, his shot never quite came in this one, and it’s been the one thing that hasn’t fully returned from his MVP form of years past, but there were other very positive signs. Not just the defensive effort and he showed his ability to control rebounds as the game progressed, but his playmaking was in full form, finding lanes into the paint and kicking out to shooters for easy looks with regularity. He’s visibly enjoying himself out there with this Raptors team, and the shot should just be rust at this point, and should come as he gets further back into the swing of the NBA season.
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To cap the night off, Chris Boucher, who grew up in Montreal, was able to deliver another nice moment for the crowd as he hit a pair of threes in the waning moments. Boucher has had a nice training camp and preseason, and should be a leading contender for the Raptors’ last two-way spot.
This was the team that was envisioned at the time of the trade this summer in this second half, an athletic team that could switch on defense and challenge offenses around the court while creating a lot of space offensively through their speed, talent, and shooting across the court. Nick Nurse’s vision appears to be translating in the preseason, because he got the players in rhythm in this game, and with just a week remaining until the regular season, it’ll be interesting to see if he can deliver this team on a nightly basis.
"He's trying to get himself ready and, you know, his fire and his compete," said first-year Toronto coach Nick Nurse. "I'd certainly much rather see him going out there fighting like heck than I would not caring about a pre-season game or sitting another one out.
With a Thursday night matchup in New Orleans that won’t be broadcast on TV or radio as the only remaining preseason contest, this was the last look for most of us at this team prior to the opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Delon Wright left the game late with what’s being described as a thigh bruise, which will be something to keep an eye on. For Raptors fans though, the season can’t come soon enough after getting a glimpse of what this year’s team might be in Montreal.