Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points and the Toronto Raptors snapped a two-game skid with a 127-104 victory over the undermanned New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.
Pascal Siakam had 19 and Jeremy Lin added 14 for the Raptors, who began to pull away late in the third quarter and cruised to the finish against a Pelicans squad missing Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore.
Frank Jackson scored 20 points for the Pelicans, who’ve lost two straight. Julius Randle had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Cheick Diallo had 16 points and 12 boards for New Orleans.
Leonard met little resistance when he made strong moves toward the rim. While he missed four of five 3-point attempts, he was 13 of 15 from closer range. He threw down a handful of dunks on drives or cuts to the basket and mixed in a finger roll and reverse layup.
Toronto shot 54.1 per cent (53 for 98), scoring 66 points in the paint and 53 on fast breaks.
Holiday, the Pelicans’ second-leading scorer, was ruled out a day earlier because of an abdomen strain that is expected to sideline him at least a week. Then on Friday in the hours before tip-off, the Pelicans first announced that Moore also would miss at least a week because he’d reinjured his left quadriceps, and then announced that Davis would sit out against the Raptors with back spasms. The Pelicans’ front court got even thinner when Jahlil Okafor went out with a left ankle sprain after halftime.
Still, New Orleans managed to keep the game competitive until late in the third quarter, when Danny Green hit consecutive 3-pointers during a 9-0 run that widened Toronto’s lead to 88-75.
When Lin and Kyle Lowry hit consecutive 3s in the middle of the fourth quarter, the Raptors’ lead had grown to 21 and fans started making their way toward the exits.
Raptors: Green and Lowry each scored 13, with Green going 3 of 4 from 3-point range. ... Serge Ibaka had 12 points and 11 rebounds. ... Toronto was 13 of 37 on 3-pointers (35.1 per cent).
Pelicans: Elfird Payton scored 13 points, Ian Clark scored 11 and Darius Miller 10. ... F Solomon Hill played for the first time since Feb. 4 after not getting any playing time in New Orleans’ previous 13 games. Hill played 12 minutes, scoring his only points on a 3-pointer to go with two rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Raptors: Visit Miami on Sunday for the second of three straight road games.
Pelicans: Visit Atlanta on Sunday.