Raptors back in win column
NEW ORLEANS—Greivis Vasquez drew a round of applause when he first checked in against the team for which he played the past two seasons.
Later, he all but silenced the New Orleans crowd with five-straight points that gave his new team the lead for good inside the final two minutes.
“I was blessed enough to be out there at the end of the game,” said Vasquez, who was traded by New Orleans after last season in a deal that brought Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans.
“I had a really rough first half and then the second half I was just on a mission,” he added.
“I like close games, man. I’m not afraid. I would never be afraid,” Vasquez stressed.
“I’m the type of player that would risk everything,” he noted. “That’s how I got [the starting point guard] job here in New Orleans.”
Kyle Lowry scored 23, Amir Johnson added 17, and Vasquez finished with 14 to help Toronto overcome a 14-point first-half deficit.
Tyler Hansbrough, playing additional minutes with starting centre Jonas Valanciunas sidelined by a sore back, grabbed 13 rebounds—seven on the offensive end.
“That’s psycho-T at his finest,” DeRozan said of Hansbrough. “He went out there, played extremely hard, got rebounds, and came up with some big rebounds late in the game.
“That’s just him.”
The game was tied at 94 when Vasquez scored five-straight points in a 36-second span on a running floater and a driving lay-up as he was fouled—the latter coming after Vasquez rebounded his missed jumper for one of Toronto’s 22 offensive rebounds.
“It’s cool to have a teammate like that because you see how much he wanted it,” DeRozan said of Vasquez.
“That’s why we call him ‘Spicy.’
“You never know what you’re going to get until you eat it.”
Al-Farouq Aminu had 19 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which was without all-star Anthony Davis because of an illness.
The Pelicans could not deny that Davis’ absence—one game after his career-high 40 points and 21 rebounds in Sunday’s overtime win over Boston—was a factor.
“Obviously, with a guy that can rebound like Anthony, it’s hard to make up for that,” said rookie centre Jeff Withey.
Eric Gordon added 15 for the Pelicans but was shut out in the second half, when his playing time was limited after he was called for his fourth foul in the middle of the third quarter.
“Once he got in foul trouble . . . I think that probably broke his rhythm,” said Pelicans’ coach Monty Williams.