Rings, Banner, and a Win Against the Pelicans at the Season Opener
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Toronot, ON - The NBA 2019-20 season began tonight with the Toronto Raptors facing the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was an emotional night for the Raptors and their fans this evening as the Championship banner was revealed and the Championship rings were handed out to the players. It was a nice way to close off the 2018-19 season and start the 2019-20 season. After the excitement was over, it was time to get serious and focus on the game ahead.
There was a lot of anticipation to see Zion Williamson start for the Pelicans. Unfortunately, due to right knee surgery, he was not able to do so. The number-one overall pick will miss the start of the NBA season, as he will be out for 6-8 weeks.
At the beginning of the 1st quarter, it was clear who the Raptors had to look out for. JJ Redick, who was a big threat to the Raptors in the 2nd round of the 2019 Playoffs against the 76ers, appeared to be doing the same damage now with the Pelicans. His shooting throughout the game was consistent, especially the three-pointers. Redick made 4 out of 6 of his 3-point attempts.
It took a little while for the Raptors to get into the game. They started playing weak defensively and missing a lot of their shots, as opposed to New Orleans who got down the floor quickly and made their shots easily. As for the Raptors, they suffered a lot because of the points made from turnovers. They trailed by eleven and then cut it down to one point with 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a Canadian who was the 17th overall-pick from Virginia Tech, played his first NBA game at home against a Canadian team. He made 3 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds.
In the 2nd quarter, we saw OG picking up the pace. He has been playing well since his recovery from last season's injuries which made him sit out during the playoffs.
With 2 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, the Raptors managed to tie the game 52-52. However, as the quarter came to an end, the Pelicans fought back and got the lead at half-time, 61-56. New Orleans's phenomenal 3-point shooting was partly responsible for the lead they had at the half.
Siakam continued to show why he deserved the 4-year max contract in the second half of the game. He did so by pressuring the Pelicans defense and finishing the up the shot.
Ingram was impressive with ball faking. He was able to get the defender, Anunoby, up, drawing a foul and making the shot and one.
Fred VanVleet continued to put pressure on the defense and was consistent in his shot-making. He had no trouble getting around the defenders and getting the bucket. As well as Kyle Lowry, who made an impact on the game with his ability to get back defensively in transition to prevent the Pelicans from getting shots in.
The Raptors picked up the pace throughout the 3rd quarter, taking a pretty steady lead, with the Pelicans trailing only by a few points.
Brandon Ingram played tremendously putting up 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was one of the most effective players for the Pelicans.
The Pelicans closed the gap as the Raptors got a little careless with the ball, creating turnovers at the start of the 4th quarter. Their three-point shooting was also what helped them. New Orleans was 19 for 45 by the end of the game in 3-points made.
The tension was very high as the clock ran out, this was evident as frustration resulted in two technical fouls, one for Kyle Lowry and the other for Marc Gasol. Towards the end of the 4th quarter was when the intensity picked up.
It was hard to tell who was going to come out victorious. Both teams kept making their shots and that held the game tied. Unfortunately for the Raptors, winning became harder as Pascal fouled out with less than one minute left in the game.
JJ Reddick, being a threat, we knew he was, fired up a shot which made the score 117-115, for the Pelicans. However, shortly after, Hart fouled Lowry, who took free-throws that tied the game once more, 117-117.
There were 8.9 seconds left on the clock, and Lowry inbounded the ball passing it to Norman Powell. Powell dribbled the ball and in the last second took a very deep three that was ultimately too strong and did not go in. The score remained 117-117.
The Raptors had to go into overtime without Pascal Siakam, which meant they needed to find a new strategy to try and win the game.
Fred made a jaw-dropping 3-pointer that put the Raptors ahead, 127-122. Lowry then proceeded to hit another three, with less than 1-minute left in overtime. That shot secured their win.
And just like that, Raptors came away with a victory at the season opener, 122-130. Showing that even with Pascal fouling out, they still can win.
Fred VanVleet finished the game with a career-high 34 points, 5 rebound, and 7 assists. Pascal Siakam finished with 34 points, 18 rebound and 5 assists, the first to do it in Raptors history since Vince Carter (30pts, 15 reb, 5 ast).
The Toronto Raptors will face the Boston Celtics on Friday, October 25th at TD Garden. Their next home game is on Monday, October 28th against Orlando Magic at Scotiabank Arena.