The Toronto Raptors notched an impressive victory in the middle contest of their three-game road trip and look to end the trek with a winning record when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. Toronto rolled to a 129-113 win over red-hot Houston on Tuesday after opening the journey with a 95-94 loss to Boston.
The star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 46 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in the win over the Rockets while taking on their typical load of on-court leadership. “That is the challenge we take on every night, and it’s fun,” DeRozan said in a postgame television interview after scoring 27 points. “On the road against a great team in a hostile place, we proved that.” New Orleans is playing solid basketball, posting five wins in its last six games - with the lone defeat being a 122-118 setback in Toronto. Guard Jrue Holiday recorded season bests of 34 points and 11 assists in that contest but averaged just 9.5 points over the next two games.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), FSN New Orleans
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (8-5): Rookie forward OG Anunoby received his first career start Tuesday with Norman Powell (hip) sidelined and scored a season-best 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The 20-year-old was the 23rd overall selection in the 2017 draft, and Toronto sees him eventually blossoming into a double-digit scorer but also had him guarding Houston star James Harden (38 points on 8-of-25 shooting) for long stretches of the game. “You’re not going to stop a young man like Harden, but I thought he made him work for every inch of the court he tried to get to, and used his foot speed and length to make it difficult,” coach Dwane Casey told reporters. “(Harden) still scored. Still, he made him work, and that’s what we need out of that position.”
ABOUT THE PELICANS (8-6): Rajon Rondo is slated to see approximately 14-to-16 minutes of playing time against Toronto after receiving five in Monday’s 106-105 victory over Atlanta. Rondo is back from core muscle surgery, and coach Alvin Gentry is looking forward to seeing him reach full health to run the team - as is the veteran point guard. “It’s a great feeling to be back out there playing basketball again, especially with this group of guys,” Rondo told reporters. “They are very unselfish. I came here for a reason. This is a special group of guys, and my expectations are pretty high.”
1. DeRozan scored 33 points in the recent win over the Pelicans - Toronto’s fifth straight triumph in the all-time series and 13th in the last 16 meetings.
2. New Orleans C DeMarcus Cousins has recorded six straight double-doubles and posted 13 through 14 games.
3. Toronto swingman CJ Miles matched his season best of six 3-pointers while scoring 19 points against the Rockets.
PREDICTION: Pelicans 108, Raptors 104