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Raptors push past Pelicans

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TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors owned the first and third quarters Monday, and it was a good thing for them that they did.

They outscored the New Orleans Pelicans 31-20 in the first quarter and 33-21 in the third, then held on for a 108-101 victory.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said wanted to see the team’s second unit do better than it did against the Pelicans.

“What it’s doing is putting a lot of pressure on the starters, putting them into big-minute situations,” Casey said.

Pelicans coach Monty Williams had the opposite problem.

“In the first and third quarters, we didn’t have a lot of production from our starting group,” Williams said. “It was just a hole that we dug, and then our second unit came in and gave us a lot of juice and effort.”

The Raptors’ bench was thinner than usual because forward Patrick Patterson, who scored a season-best 22 points, was forced into a starting role to replace injured forward Amir Johnson.

“But still we’ve got to get more off that second unit coming in,” Casey said.

Guard DeMar DeRozan also scored 22 points for the Raptors, who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Guard Kyle Lowry added 19 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds for Toronto (27-24). Guard/forward Terrence Ross added 14 points, and forward Tyler Hansbrough came off the bench to score 12 points.

Lowry played nearly 39 minutes and made some big plays, particularly on the offensive glass late in the game. DeRozan played slightly more than 40 minutes.

Guard Tyreke Evans came off the bench to lead the Pelicans (22-29) with 23 points and 10 assists. Forward Anthony Davis added 19 points, and guard Brian Roberts scored 18. Guard Eric Gordon chipped in with 10 for New Orleans, which lost its second game in a row.

“I don’t know if it was the back-to-back (coming off a road loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday) or the time of the season, but we didn’t have the same zip that we typically have,” Williams said.

The Pelicans also struggled with free throws, going 17-for-26 from the line.

“Unreal,” Williams said. “Big free throws. We had a chance to cut the lead and change the tone of the game, and sometimes we missed them both.”

Toronto earned its seventh win in the past eight meetings with New Orleans, which had its only victory in the stretch Jan. 17, 2011.

“We missed a couple of tough shots towards the end,” Gordon said. “The second unit really brought us back. The second unit, they attacked, they were always in attack mode. We just got to get to where we were and play real good defense.”

The Raptors entered the fourth quarter with a 12-point lead, but a jumper by Pelicans guard Anthony Morrow cut the lead to five points with 8:59 to play. New Orleans forward Luke Babbitt hit a 3-pointer to reduce Toronto’s lead to 87-86.

Toronto re-established a nine-point lead with 4:21 left on a bank shot by Hansbrough and a 3-pointer by Ross.

Hansbrough was one of the Raptors’ bench players who played a vital role.

“Right now it’s kind of what I have to do,” Hansbrough said. “Obviously I’m not playing a lot of minutes, so when I get on the court and the opportunity presents itself, I just have to be ready to help the team. That’s the way I’m looking at it. When I go in, that’s what I’m doing. Obviously they were pretty physical tonight, especially with their bigs.”

Patterson gave the Raptors a 10-point lead with 1:40 to play. New Orleans cut the lead to five points with 16.1 seconds left on a layup by Evans.

“It was typical of a team coached by Monty Williams, they never quit,” Lowry said.

The teams were tied at the half, but the Raptors moved into a 10-point lead early in the third quarter with a 13-3 surge. A 3-pointer by Patterson bumped the lead to 17 points with 3:14 left in the third quarter and gave him 10 points in the quarter. The lead reached 18 before Toronto settled for an 82-70 edge at the end of the third.

NOTES: Raptors F Amir Johnson (sore right ankle) did not play Monday. F Patrick Patterson started in his place. … Patterson will continue to wear a mask to protect his broken nose for about a month. … Pelicans G Tyreke Evans, hampered by a cartilage tear between his ribs, did not play in Sunday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets because of what coach Monty Williams referred to as an internal team issue. Evans was back in action against the Raptors. … Monday was the Raptors’ first home game since Jan. 29, when they defeated the Orlando Magic before departing on a five-game Western swing that produced a 2-3 record. The Raptors play the Atlanta Hawks at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday. … The Pelicans visit the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Wednesday to play the Milwaukee Bucks.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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