Raptors handed first home defeat

The Canadian Press
Neil Davidson

TORONTO–The Toronto Raptors’ smooth start to the NBA season hit a bump last night.
The New Orleans Pelicans beat Toronto 126-110 to hand the Raptors only their second loss of the young campaign–and first at home.
Toronto’s defence was out of sorts, allowing opponent season-highs in points allowed (126) and field goal percentage (.545).
At the other end, its offence sputtered–especially from three-point range, where the Raptors made just 13-of-45 attempts.
“Tough night. They did everything better than us,” said Pascal Siakam, a bright spot for Toronto (12-2) with a team-high 22 points on a day where he was named Eastern Conference player-of-the-week.
It marked the second-straight game that Siakam has led Toronto in scoring.
Raptors’ coach Nick Nurse told his players it was one of those nights.
“I just told them, ‘Hey listen, they were really good. Sometimes you get your butt kicked in this league. Let’s get out of here, go home, and let’s get ready to bounce back because we’ve got a bunch of games coming at us this week.
“‘We’ve got to forget about it ASAP, learn what we can learn,” he stressed. “The ball goes up again here in a couple of days and we’ve got to be ready to fight a little harder.'”
E’Twaun Moore had a season-high 30 points for the Pelicans (7-6) while Jrue Holiday tied season-highs with 29 points and 14 assists.
Anthony Davis had 25 points and a season-high 20 rebounds–the fifth 20-20 game of his career.
The Pelicans’ starters combined for 106 points and shot 60 percent (45-of-75) from the field.
New Orleans scored 72 points in the paint, 30 more than the Raptors.
Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry enjoyed his team’s third win in a row but declined to put too much on it.
“We’ve got 69 more [games] to go. I’ll talk to you after the 69th one,” he said.
Gentry’s respect for the Raptors has not wavered.
“It’s one loss. This is a great team that we played. They’re a really great team,” he lauded. “Nick has done a great job with these guys. . . .
“We played really well tonight and we beat them.
“It’s a good win for us on the road against a very good team. That’s really all it is,” Gentry added.
Kawhi Leonard had 20 points for Toronto while Serge Ibaka added 19.
Ibaka now has scored in double figures in 13-straight games–the third-longest streak of his career and longest since 2014.
Kyle Lowry had 11 assists but just four points on 1-of-9 shooting, missing all six three-point attempts.
“We just didn’t play our brand of basketball tonight,” Lowry said.
The Raptors came into the game riding a six-game winning streak and boasting the league’s best record.
Toronto’s only other loss of the season was a 124-109 decision in Milwaukee back on Oct. 29.
The Raptors had won all seven previous home games.
Going into last night, Toronto, Memphis, and Milwaukee were the only remaining unbeaten teams at home.
Toronto had won 12 of the last 14 meetings with the Pelicans and swept the last three season series.
Not this night.
Toronto trailed by two after the first quarter and five at the half. The Pelicans pushed the lead to 13 in the third quarter.
The deficit was 11 entering the fourth quarter. An early 7-2 run, thanks in part to a pair of Pelican turnovers, narrowed the lead to six.
But New Orleans responded with an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 14 with 8:39 to go.
Toronto couldn’t reel the Pelicans back.
The Raptors next welcome the Detroit Pistons and former coach Dwane Casey on Wednesday night.

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