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Valanciunas sparks Raptors to win


NEW ORLEANS—Toronto centre Jonas Valanciunas clearly wasn't intimidated by a Pelicans' frontcourt featuring all-stars DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

The Lithuanian seven-footer turned in one of his best performances this season, scoring 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, as the Raptors emerged with a 94-87 victory last night over a New Orleans' squad that played without Davis during the second half.

“I was ready. I'm ready every night,” Valanciunas noted.

“I'm waiting for that chance," he added. "Give me a chance and I'm going to fight hard.”

The Pelicans announced that Davis hurt his left wrist—an injury that appeared to occur when he caught his wrist on the front rim and then crashed to the court during the Pelicans' final possession of the first half.

Davis was fouled by Norman Powell as he leaped in an effort to corral an alley-oop pass.

Davis, who shoots right-handed, made two free throws after the foul, but never emerged from the locker-room after halftime in a game that was close most of the way.

The Pelicans said X-rays did not reveal any broken bones, but that Davis had a contusion and would be re-evaluated daily.

“It will be day-to-day,” said Pelicans' coach Alvin Gentry.

“But the fact that the X-rays came back negative is probably a good thing.”

DeMarcus Cousins had 25 points and 10 rebounds, but the Pelicans fell to 1-6 with him in the lineup.

Davis' absence in the second half “definitely hurt us tonight,” Cousins noted.

“That being said, we have to find a way to pick up the pieces,” he stressed.

“It's unfortunate.”

Valanciunas closed out his nearly 34-minute night by hitting a 17-foot jumper, a cutting lay-up, and a dunk inside the final four minutes as the Raptors turned a tenuous two-point lead into a comfortable 10-point spread with 43 seconds to go.

He finished with his highest-scoring total since his 32 points against Detroit on opening night Oct. 26.

His defence against New Orleans' pick-and-roll plays was strong, as well, said Raptors' coach Dwane Casey.

“That's why he stayed in” for about eight minutes more than his average for the season, he noted.

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