Toronto Raptors defeat the New Orleans Pelicans in closely fought season opener
Defending NBA champions Toronto Raptors defeated the Pelicans 130-122. This was one of the two opening games today, as Los Angeles Lakers took on rivals Los Angeles Clippers, the team to which former Raptors star Kawhi Leonard moved this season.
- Kawhi Leonard moved to the Los Angeles Clippers after spending a season in Toronto
- Pascal Siakam scored 34 points and grabbed 18 rebounds before getting fouled out
- Fred VanVleet scored a career-high 34 points
- Pelicans were missing their first-round draft pick, Zion Williamson, who is out with an injury for six to eight weeks
Before the game started, Toronto presented its players and coaches with rings and unveiled the 2019 championship banner. The ring contains more than 80 diamonds, including 74 in and around the Toronto skyline logo which represents the club's 74 wins last season.
Pascal Siakam, who recently signed a four-year, $130 million extension deal with the Toronto Raptors, also scored 34 points and 18 rebounds before he fouled out of the opening game. Five-time NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry also chipped in with 22 points for the home team.
This marks the Raptors' eight victory over the Pelicans in the past nine times the two teams have locked horns. The first two quarters went in favor of the visitors as they scored 30 points to Toronto's 27 in the first quarter and 31 points in the second quarter to Toronto's 29.
The Raptors, however, raced ahead in the third quarter which ended 32-25 in favor of the Raptors. With the Pelicans trailing by two points in the quarter, it was always going to end with some high adrenaline action, and that is just what happened.
With the Pelicans in the lead and only 29 seconds left in the clock, Lowry's free throws leveled the game at 117-117, and Norman Powell grabbed the rebound on a missed shot. With only 8.9 seconds to go, Powell's long-range three wasn't enough to take the Raptors over the line. The ball hit the rim and bounced out, sending the game into overtime.
Cover image credits: The New York Times