New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) loses the ball as he drives to the basket with Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby (3) defending during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

NEW ORLEANS — — Eric Bledsoe capped a 19-point, 10-assist performance with a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute, and the New Orleans Pelicans held on for a 120-116 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.

Brandon Ingram added 31 points, capped by four free throws in the last 13 seconds to seal the victory. Zion Williamson scored 21 points, highlighted by a pair of driving spin moves in the lane to set up left-handed leaners off the glass.

The Pelicans lost a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, briefly falling behind in the final four minutes, but were able clamp down defensively and limit the Raptors to just one point during the final 2:47.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots over Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) and forward OG Anunoby (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

“The thing I like the best is our resilience,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s not easy to give up a double-digit lead with (8:30) to go and then go behind. A lot of teams sort of fade away at that point.”

Fred VanVleet scored 27 points and Chris Boucher added 24 for Toronto. Pascal Siakam scored 10 points, but fouled out with 8:30 remaining.

“He struggled, there was no doubt about it,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Siakam. “He had a few decent plays and a few good drives in there, but again he obviously struggled.”

The Pelicans led 101-89 when Josh Hart made a free throw just after Siakam fouled out.

But Kyle Lowry quickly responded with a 3, igniting a 22-9 run that ended with 3s by OG Anunoby, Powell and VanVleet to put Toronto up 111-110 with 3:16 to go.

Toronto Raptor guard Kyle Lowry (7) discusses a call with referee Rodney Mott (71) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Ingram’s free throws tied it at 113 with 1:08 left. And after Toronto lost the ball out of bounds, Bledsoe hit his pivotal left-wing 3 with 41.6 seconds left.

“I was kind of locked in,” Beldsoe said, noting that he expected Toronto to double-team Ingram and leave someone open on the perimeter. “I was just trying to stay ready and when I got the ball I was going to shoot it with confidence.”

VanVleet scored 11 of his 21 first-half points during the last seven minutes of the second period to push Toronto in front late in the half. Lowery added a 3 from 30 feet away to put the Raptors up 60-50 before a 3 by Lonzo Ball and Steven Adams’ putback dunk trimmed it to 60-55 at halftime.

Although they’ve lost four of their first five games, the Raptors didn’t sound inclined to start panicking yet.

“Once we start winning some games and get a lot of minutes — good minutes — together as a team playing solid defense, and getting stops, and running, and things like that, you know, it’ll get back to normal,” Siakam said. “I just think that the game is focusing on little things and continuing to get better as a team and an individual.”

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) passes the ball to center Aron Baynes (46) as New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)


Raptors: Toronto went 26 of 27 on foul shots. … The Raptors came in having won five straight in New Orleans and eight of the previous 10 meetings overall but have been swept this season by the Pelicans. … Toronto got 38 points from its bench, most coming from Boucher. … Lowry was called for a flagrant-1 foul in the second half when he fell backward while guarding Bledsoe on the dribble, and while lying on the floor, reached across Beldsoe’s legs as the Pelicans guard began to drive. Bledsoe went down flat on his front side.

Pelicans: Adams and Ball each scored 13 points and Adams added nine rebounds. … The Pelicans outrebounded Toronto 51-39. … The Pelicans attempted 47 free throws, the second-most in franchise history, but missed 11. … New Orleans improved to 2-0 at home. … Second-year reserve center Jaxson Hayes grabbed eight rebounds in 16 minutes and drew praise from his coach. “We got really, really good energy and really productive minutes from Jaxson Hayes,” Van Gundy said. “He was outstanding.”


Van Gundy said he couldn’t play Williamson as much as he wanted to in the final few minutes because he had lost a timeout when he unsuccessfully challenged a foul called against New Orleans in the second half.

“I made a huge mistake in the game that you guys should all write about and criticize me for because you’ll sound like you really know what’s going on,” Van Gundy said, noting that even though he thought he might win the challenge, it was too risky to jeopardize what few timeouts he had left. “We should have never challenged that.”

Van Gundy explained that he felt matchups dictated removing Williamson in favor of having four perimeter players to defend in the final minutes, adding, “We couldn’t take a timeout to get (Williamson) back in on offense.”


Raptors: Host Boston on Monday before embarking on a four-game road trip to Phoenix and the West Coast.

Pelicans: Host Indiana on Monday in the second of four straight home games.

Courtesy: ESPN


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