The Toronto Raptors start their five-game road trip off on the right foot with a big 121-103 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Pascal Siakam led the way tying his career-high with 44 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. OG Anunoby added 21 points and Norm Powell came off the bench with 18 points in the win.
Brandon Ingram continued his strong play with a team-high 27 points, but it wasn't enough to keep the Raptors out of the winner's circle.
MORE: Kyle Lowry leaves game with thumb injury | Serge Ibaka leaves with apparent right foot injury
Here are some takeaways from the Raptors strong victory:
Pascal needed to be Pascal Siakam again. On opening night he hit the Pelicans with a cool 34-point game in Toronto's overtime win over New Orleans. On Friday, he went off for 44 points, 10 rebounds shooting 60.7% from the field.
SPICY UPDATE- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 9, 2019
44 & 10 https://t.co/0dhdiivhJ5 pic.twitter.com/va3rrsVE1U
Without Lowry and Ibaka in the second half, Siakam needed to carry an even heavier offensive load and he was up to the task. Mid-way through the fourth period - as the Pelicans made their run to get back in the game - Siakam came off the bench from a short break to close the door and seal the win.
This guy continues to be a legit All-Star candidate game in and game out. The next two games against LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard (pending load management) will be a great measuring stick game to find out just how much he's improved.
The Raptors went out and signed sharpshooter Matt Thomas because they needed floor spacers, well someone should've told the front office not to worry about OG's already here.
Anunoby has been lights out from three-point range to start the season. He was averaging 50% from the land beyond on 3.7 attempts per game before Friday's win.
In New Orleans, OG went 5-for-7 from three finishing with 21 points. What a luxury it will be for Toronto if OG can be a reliable shooter all year long.
OG CONFIDENCE pic.twitter.com/w0lkfix8SY- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 9, 2019
Get out and run
Coming into Friday's game, only the Milwaukee Bucks averaged more fast-break points per game than the Raptors. Against the Pelicans - a team that loves to push the pace, the Raptors feasted on fast break opportunities hitting their season average of 19 in the second quarter and finishing the game with a total of 38 for the game.
Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Kyle Lowry were the catalyst in the first half consistently pushing the tempo and helping the Raptors blow the game open in the second quarter as they cruise to a victory.
On opening night when these two teams did battle, the Raptors went through dry spells from the floor but eventually started pounding it inside and finished with 56 points in the paint. On Friday, Toronto finished with 42 paint points, but a lot of those were the result of getting out on the break. With the Lakers coming up next - the best defensive team in the league - the Raptors will need to continue taking advantage of fast-break opportunities reducing the amount of time they'll have to go against LA's set defence on Sunday night.
Marc Gasol had another one of those nights - and they're coming far too often for the Raptors. Gasol picked up two quick fouls to start the game and was forced to the bench. When he came back in, he never really seemed to get in the flow of the game, a couple of boneheaded turnovers by his standards led to easy layups for the Pelicans.
His end of game stat line left a lot to be desired as he finished with five points on 1-for-6 shooting, seven rebounds and three turnovers.
If Serge Ibaka is going to miss time, especially on this road trip, the Raptors are going to need much more from Gasol - and it has to be on a more consistent basis.
Coming into Friday's game, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet were number one and three in the league in minutes played. Lowry was forced to leave the game with a left thumb injury and Serge Ibaka didn't return after turning his right ankle.
In the first half, Toronto got contributions from Norm Powell, Chris Boucher and Matt Thomas. With Ibaka and Lowry not available in the second half Terrence Davis had to step in and play minutes as well. The bench showed flashes especially in the second quarter that they could come in and provide energy and allow the starters to rest. However, a lot of that energy as it has all year long came from Ibaka and with him gone the bench was once again exposed.
🗣BONJOURRRRR pic.twitter.com/AYkJs0xtrE- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 9, 2019
Toronto led by as many as 29 points in the game but were never able to close the game completely on the Pelicans which meant extended minutes for key guys like Siakam and VanVleet. They got the win, but the Raptors would've loved to rest Siakam and VanVleet especially with a back-to-back in LA coming up on Sunday and Monday.
Nick Nurse is going to have to play the reserves on this trip, for Raptors fans the hope is that they can at least be serviceable.
Coming into Friday's win Toronto was averaging 17.7 turns per game - sixth from the bottom of the league. Against the Pelicans they matched that season average giving the rock up 17 times.
If Lowry is set to miss time the pressure is on VanVleet, Siakam and Gasol to clean that up.
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