Fred VanVleet scored 34 points, including a crucial three-pointer in overtime, as NBA champions the Toronto Raptors opened the season with a 130-122 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
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New Orleans Pelicans
- Points: Brandon Ingram – 22
- Assists: Jrue Holiday – 6
- Rebounds: Josh Hart – 10
- Points: VanVleet/Siakam – 34
- Assists: Fred VanVleet – 7
- Rebounds: Pascal Siakam – 18
Toronto’s Pascal Siakam also scored 34 points and grabbed 18 rebounds before fouling out with 50.1 seconds left in regulation.
The Raptors, who were presented with their championship rings in a ceremony before the game, tied the game at 117 on Kyle Lowry’s two free throws with 29.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, forcing overtime.
Lowry added 22 points, Serge Ibaka had 13 points and OG Anunoby 11 for Toronto.
Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 22 points. JJ Redick added 16 points, and Josh Hart had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Nicolo Melli had 14 points and Jrue Holiday 13 for New Orleans, who were without first overall draft pick Zion Williamson (knee surgery).
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Marc Gasol’s lay-up and free throw put the Raptors ahead 122-120 in overtime, but Holiday tied the game.
Lowry’s two free throws with 2:06 left in the extra session restored Toronto’s two-point lead. VanVleet then hit a corner three, and the Raptors led 127-122 with 1:27 to play. Lowry added a three-pointer with 56.7 seconds to go to seal the win.
The Raptors took an 88-86 lead into the fourth quarter but fell behind by six points on Frank Jackson’s three-pointer with 4:29 remaining.
Siakam hit a bank shot and added the free throw to cut the deficit to one, then sank fadeaway jumper with 2:51 to play to put Toronto ahead by one point. Jahlil Okafor’s free throw tied the game at 110 with 2:37 to go.
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Hart nailed a corner three-pointer to give New Orleans a 115-112 lead with 1:28 remaining. VanVleet answered with a game-tying triple nine seconds later. Redick’s jumper with 59.2 seconds left gave New Orleans a two-point lead.
Lowry’s two free throws levelled the score before both teams missed shots in the last seconds of the fourth quarter.
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The Pelicans led 30-27 after the first quarter after a 15-4 start to the game and were ahead 61-56 at half-time.
Ibaka put the Raptors up by six on when he hit a turnaround hook shot with 3:04 left in the third quarter. Ibaka made two free throws 25 seconds later for an eight-point lead. The Pelicans crept back and trailed 88-86 when Hart’s two free throws closed the third-period scoring.
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