Raptors preserve rolling vs. Pelicans as Poeltl performs ‘humongous’ as soon as once more

The Toronto Raptors pulled away with a clutch 115-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, and as soon as once more it was Jakob Poeltl that appeared to make all of the distinction.

The centre completed with 21 factors on 9-of-11 capturing to associate with a career-high 18 rebounds. Poeltl was particularly instrumental within the fourth quarter, the place he picked up 10 factors, six boards — three of these on the offensive glass — in addition to a nasty block on the rim on Herbert Jones.


“He was humongous at getting us additional possessions,” mentioned Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “He was defending the rim down there. He received a leap ball for us … he did so many good issues.”

Pelicans head coach Willie Inexperienced had related reward, calling Poeltl’s rebounding the “distinction within the final stretch of the sport.”

The victory pushes the Raptors to their sixth win up to now seven video games, marking the most effective stretch they’ve performed this season. For the third time, they’ve additionally received three straight — all have been with Poeltl as a starter — marking a monumental shift for Toronto since buying him on the Feb. 9 commerce deadline, as he continues to seem like the piece the Raptors had been lacking all alongside.

It helps kick off what Nurse calls a “seven-week dash” to finish off the season following the NBA’s All-Star break. With the Raptors coming off a week-long relaxation, all focus is now on climbing up the Japanese Convention standings, the place they sit in ninth — ok for a play-in spot.

“That’s what you play basketball for on the finish of the day, since you need to win,” mentioned Poeltl post-game. “You don’t simply need to win a (single) basketball sport. You need to win to get to the playoffs, to get the Finals, to win championships and stuff like that. So, yeah, that’s what makes it enjoyable on the finish of the day.”

The exhibiting from Poeltl comes after he put up 30 factors and 6 blocks in opposition to the Orlando Magic simply earlier than the All-Star break.

As soon as once more, it was his potential to make performs from the elbow or on the prime of the paint that helped the Raptors make good choices within the half-court. As well as, his depth within the fourth quarter proved pivotal, as Nurse applauded Poeltl’s potential to punish the Pelicans for attempting to blitz Siakam with Larry Nance Jr.‘s pace and athleticism.

Toronto was capable of first draw back within the third quarter, ending the body up 15 factors. It was behind a scorching body from Pascal Siakam, who put up 18 of his 26 factors in that quarter. To cap it off, Chris Boucher additionally threw down an exclamation level with arguably the most effective dunks of the yr.

“That was fairly cool,” mentioned Nurse. “That’s Chris, proper? He’s going to make some spectacular performs. He’s going to do ‘em at each ends. He makes one thing occur. It isn’t all the time good however tonight there was a sequence there the place they had been nice, proper? So he makes issues occur and performs with large vitality. And that’s what we want from him off the bench.”

The Pelicans didn’t stop although, even with out their all-star in Zion Williamson. Brandon Ingram scored 14 of his 36 factors within the fourth quarter, finally reducing the Raptors result in 112-110 with 33 seconds to go.

With the Raptors on the verge of giving up one other massive lead, it was Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. who stepped up, because the all-star discovered the sharp shooter for a dagger-three.

It was a pleasant and demanding win for the Raptors, who had been graced with some massive dwelling courtroom vitality in Scotiabank Area behind Caribbean Heritage night time.

“I mess with the vibe, get slightly bubble in earlier than the sport,” mentioned Scottie Barnes, who completed with 18 factors and three assists whereas subbing in for an absent Fred VanVleet as the start line guard.

“It was good. I like listening to that. It was an excellent environment.”

Counting tonight, the Raptors observe the All-Star break with 23 video games, and it’s not a simple remaining schedule. Seven of these first 9 video games are on the highway, whereas 12 video games are in opposition to groups with a .500 or higher report — the Pelicans included.

The aim is to be among the many prime six groups within the East. That approach, the Raptors received’t be topic to a do-or-die play-in sport — the results of touchdown between the seventh to tenth seeds in a respective convention. As a substitute, by touchdown among the many prime six, they’ll be capable to additional their 2022-23 marketing campaign with a seven-game collection.

Jakob Poeltl has been a beast since returning to the Raptors forward of the NBA commerce deadline. (Getty)

To get there, they’ll want to shut the hole between them and the sixth seed, which the Raptors sit 4 video games out of — as they appear as much as the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Warmth and New York Knicks.

“We want these wins to be able to attempt to make this deep playoff push,” mentioned Barnes. “So each sport is essential to us. So we simply bought to maintain attempting to win and play exhausting each time you step on the ground.”

Nurse was impressed with the Raptors’ offensive efficiency, but additionally the workforce’s defence, which he says is attempting to catch as much as the extent they demonstrated on the finish of final season. He notably applauded their potential to guard the paint, nonetheless he desires to see extra deal with defensive transition, particularly after the Pelicans used it to knock down threes.

Usually, Nurse is impressed with the workforce’s total enchancment. He notes that the workforce’s focus is getting higher, with the Raptors not making the identical errors that plagued them three months in the past. He credit the addition of Poeltl, but additionally extra gamers getting wholesome and re-entering the rotation.

“We put the commerce deadline behind us. We put All-Star behind us,” mentioned Nurse. “We’ve completed a heck of quite a lot of work.”