Pelicans beat the Raptors for a second time, 120-116

With just under five minutes left against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night, the New Orleans Pelicans held a 109-99 lead. With the sluggish play of the Raptors and their inability to make shots, it looked like the Pels had it in the bag.

Then Toronto started making shots. 

After several buckets by OG Anunoby, a three by Norman Powell and a 26-foot three-point shot from Fred VanVleet, the Raptors took a 111-110 lead with 3:16 remaining.

Things weren’t looking good. After the way last season went, it would’ve been easy for Pelicans fans to expect a loss in a situation such as this. After all, the Pelicans went 13-28 in games decided by five points or less last season. 

But this isn’t last year.

The Pelicans fought back behind star Brandon Ingram, as the Kinston, N.C. native went six of six from the line in the final 1:08 of the contest (before the final free throw that sealed the deal, Fox Sports New Orleans showed Ingram saying to his teammates, “It’s over. It’s over.”). He finished with 31 points, going 8-17 from the field and 11-14 from the free throw line. Stan Van Gundy told the media following the game, “He’s our guy late because he’s because of his size and skill. We also know he’s going to make his free throws.”

Ingram would leave the Smoothie King Center to the tune of the 750 fans allowed in the stadium chanting ‘MVP.’  Starting guard Eric Bledsoe shared the same sentiment. When asked by a media member what he thought of Ingram’s performance tonight, all he had to say was “I know it’s early in the season, but all I can say is MVP.”

Bledsoe shined in his own right on the night, banging home a three-pointer with 42.3 seconds remaining to take the lead for the first time in the final three minutes. Young star Zion Williamson would sing his praises following the game, saying “We know that’s what he’s capable of. We expect that and we want that from Bled.” The Kentucky-product finished with 19 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. 

Coach Van Gundy keyed in on one thing during the postgame media session that he’s seen and continues to see from his team — resilience. “We’ve hung in there,” Van Gundy said. “The first Toronto game we were down, Miami we got way down, San Antonio did pretty much the same thing (as Saturday night against the Raptors). … We’re already — early in the year — having a pattern of resilience.”

The Pelicans will next face the Indiana Pacers at 7 p.m. on Monday night at the Smoothie King Center.

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