Valanciunas leads Raptors over Pelicans, 94-87

Valanciunas leads Raptors over Pelicans, 94-87

NEW ORLEANS — Toronto centre Jonas Valanciunas clearly wasn’t intimidated by a Pelicans frontcourt featuring All-Stars DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

The Lithuanian 7-footer turned in one of his best performances this season, scoring 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, and the Raptors emerged with a 94-87 victory Wednesday night over a New Orleans squad that played without Davis during the second half.

“I was ready. I’m ready every night,” Valanciunas said. “I’m waiting for that chance. Give me a chance and I’m going to fight hard.”

The Pelicans announced that Davis hurt his left wrist, an injury that appeared to occur when he caught his wrist on the front rim and then crashed to the court during the Pelicans’ final possession of the first half. Davis was fouled by Norman Powell as he leaped in an effort to corral an alley-oop pass. Davis, who shoots right-handed, made two free throws after the foul, but never emerged from the locker room after halftime in a game that was close most of the way.

The Pelicans said X-rays did not reveal any broken bones, but that Davis, who did not speak to reporters after the game, had a contusion and would be re-evaluated daily.

“It will be day-to-day,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “But the fact that the X-rays came back negative is probably a good thing.”

DeMarcus Cousins had 25 points and 10 rebounds, but the Pelicans fell to 1-6 with Cousins in the lineup.

Davis’ absence in the second half “definitely hurt us tonight,” Cousins said. “That being said, we have to find a way to pick up the pieces. It’s unfortunate.”

Davis scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 17 minutes before he left.

Valanciunas, by contrast, closed out his nearly 34-minute night by hitting a 17-foot jumper, a cutting layup and a dunk inside the final four minutes as the Raptors turned a tenuous two-point lead into a comfortable 10-point spread with 43 seconds to go. He finished with his highest-scoring total since his 32 points against Detroit on opening night Oct. 26.

His defence against New Orleans’ pick-and-roll plays was strong as well, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

“This was one of Jonas’ better defensive games against the pick-and-roll,” Casey said. “That’s why he stayed in” for about eight minutes more than his average for the season.

DeMar DeRozan scored 14 points for Toronto, including a 16-foot, step-back jumper that made it 92-84 with 1:49 left. Serge Ibaka added 12 points for the Raptors, who’ve won six of their last eight, and Cory Joseph scored 11.

Cousins was the only Pelicans starter to score in double figures. Reserve E’Twaun Moore had 13 points and recently acquired reserve guard Jordan Crawford scored 10.


Raptors: DeRozan, in his eighth season, needs five points to reach 11,000 in his career. … Forward DeMarre Carroll, who sprained his left ankle Saturday in a loss to Milwaukee, was ruled out before tip-off.

Pelicans: New Orleans is now 2-6 since trading for Cousins at the All-Star break, but one of those victories came while Cousins was suspended one game for his 18th technical foul this season. … Wayne Seldon was in uniform for the first time since signing a 10-day contract earlier Wednesday but did not play.


Gentry said before the game that the Pelicans would continue to struggle, as they have lately, until more players start hitting open shots. After New Orleans finished shooting 42.5 per cent (34 of 80) against Toronto, including 31 per cent (9 of 29) from 3-point range, Gentry had the same complaint.

“You give up 94 points at home, you’ve got to win the game. You’ve got to find a way to get 95,” Gentry said. “Our defence was really good, but we can’t score the basketball. We can’t score the basketball and that’s been our struggle.”


Raptors: Visit Atlanta on Friday.

Pelicans: Visit Charlotte on Saturday.


An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the Pelicans’ record as 1-5 with Cousins in the lineup.

Brett Martel, The Associated Press

Canadian Press

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