NEW ORLEANS (AP) — CJ McCollum’s first victory with New Orleans was one of the Pelicans’ most dominant performances of the season.
McCollum, who was traded from Portland last week, scored 23 points and the Pelicans overall shot a season-best 58.4% to defeat the Toronto Raptors 120-90 on Monday night.
It was McCollum’s third game with his new club and his most efficient. He made nine of 13 shots, including five of eight from 3-point range, and had five assists, four rebounds, two steals and not a single turnover.
“CJ, he’s just a proven professional. He’s been doing it for a number of years,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “He’s just a leader in general. So, coming to our team, he’s doing much of the same.”
Brandon Ingram had 10 points and 11 rebounds. His eight assists left him two short of his first triple-double when he was pulled after playing 29 minutes because the game was not close — and because New Orleans plays again Tuesday night.
“I’m not that upset,” Ingram said. “I’d rather have rest in that fourth quarter.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes, and reserve big man Jackson Hayes added 14 points for New Orleans, which never trailed and led by as many as 34 points.
Fred VanVleet scored 20 points and Pascal Siakam added 18 points for Toronto, which has lost two straight on the heels of an eight-game winning streak.
“It was just a terrible game,” Siakam said. “They came out early and got the lead, and they were just making shots. It was just one of those nights.”
The Raptors shot a season-worst 30.5% (29 of 95), and the game might have been more lopsided if Toronto, which came in second in the NBA in offensive rebounds, hadn’t snagged 20 of its own missed shots and converted those into 24 second-chance points.
“We started off slow on both sides,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “It turned into a really bad night pretty early.”
On the other side, the Pelicans had a season-high 36 assists as a team on 45 made field goals, and tied a season high with 16 3s on 36 attempts (44.4%).
“That’s what we want to make our identity as a team,” Ingram said. “That was a focus for us going into tonight, just getting everybody involved, making sure that the ball was hopping and getting the best shot on the floor.”
Green said he was “definitely impressed” with his club’s performance, which stemmed a two-game slide in emphatic fashion.
“It’s just impressive in the way we did it, starting with our defense, moving the ball, trusting each other,” Green said. “Not every game we’ll be able to get 36 assists, but it’s great to do it. It’s great for guys to trust each other.”
Raptors: Reserve Chris Boucher scored 15 points, hitting nine of 12 free throws, in 23 minutes. … VanVleet has scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. … Siakam’s streak of 20-point games was snapped at six. … The Raptors scored just seven points off of 14 Pelicans turnovers.
Pelicans: Tony Snell played for the first time since being traded from Portland as part of the deal that also brought McCollum to New Orleans. Snell had eight points, two rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes. … Herb Jones scored 11 points and reserve guard Garrett Temple also scored 11, hitting three of four 3-point shots and four of five shots overall in 14 minutes.
Nurse said he pulled VanVleet from the game after three quarters in part because of the lopsided score, but also because his star guar played with a sore knee in the second half.
“He told me at the half that he got knocked on the knee,” Nurse said. “He toughed it out and got through it, but there was no sense going further with him after the third.”
Raptors: Visit Minnesota on Wednesday night in their final game before the All-Star break.
Pelicans: Hosts Memphis on Tuesday night in the fifth of six straight home games.
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