Raptors, Pelicans Look For Solutions

The befuddled New Orleans Pelicans are searching for a fortune teller. The banged-up Toronto Raptors are searching for a witch doctor.

They've come to the right city.

When the Pelicans (25-39) host the Raptors (37-26) on Wednesday night at the Smoothie King Center, they will try to answer some puzzling questions.

The Pelicans are 2-5 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins in a blockbuster deal with Sacramento, and they have won just once with both Cousins and Anthony Davis in their new-look, Twin Towers lineup.

The offense was so anemic in an 88-83 road loss Monday night against the Utah Jazz that New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, normally placid, got testy when asked why point guard Jrue Holiday did not play in the fourth quarter. Holiday went 1 of 9 from the field and scored four points and had four turnovers against three assists.

In the 13 games before the All-Star Game, Holiday averaged 21.8 points on 55.6 percent shooting from the field with 8.4 assists.

But in the seven games since the Pelicans acquired Cousins, he has averaged 14.6 points on 39.4 percent shooting with 6.1 assists. Holiday has committed 21 turnovers in the last five games.

"It's one freaking game," Gentry said testily. "It's not like he's going to sit the rest of the way. I felt like those guys got us back in the game and that's who should play down the stretch. Tomorrow night or the next night, he might play 45 minutes, who knows?"

The lack of relief jumpers has prompted opponents to clog the lane against Davis and Cousins and dare the Pelicans to shoot. In a brief segment of the second quarter against the Jazz, forward Dante Cunningham got three open-look, 3-point attempts from the left corner and bricked all three.

New Orleans had to resort to D League pickup Jordan Crawford, who scored 19 in his first game, for its only perimeter offense.

"When they're clogging the lane, you've got to swing the ball and we've got to make shots," Gentry said. "If you're going to open up the floor, you've got to make jump shots."

After losing in Milwaukee 101-94 on Saturday night, the Raptors flew to Miami for three days of rest and practice, and they are still searching to lighten the offensive pressure placed on guard DeMar DeRozan since backcourt mate Kyle Lowry underwent wrist surgery a week ago.

In addition to Lowry's indefinite absence -- expected to last about a month -- the Raptors got a scare Saturday night when forward DeMarre Carroll left the arena in a walking boot after rolling an ankle against the Bucks. However, Carroll's injury may not be as bad as initially feared.

"It's better," Carroll said Monday. "I'm taking it day by day. But I can walk on it, so that's a positive."

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said the three days in Miami gave his team a critical break and also provided a chance to work on fundamentals.

"A lot of training and practice," Casey said. "I think you have a captive audience. For me, that is not a vacation, and I let the players know that. We probably got a longer practice than they would have let us have in Toronto. We got a lot of stuff done."

Toronto is 4-2 without Lowry, who said he decided to have the wrist surgery after being told it was the result of 10 years of stress on the joint and would not get better without the operation.

"It's a long process of wear and tear, and bumping and grinding, and hitting guys," Lowry said. "It was just at the point here it got a little bit worse to the point where I couldn't play."

The Raptors defeated the Pelicans 108-106 in overtime at home on Jan. 31. Lowry posted 33 points and 10 rebounds. Davis had 18 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks for the Pelicans.

Toronto has won 11 of the last 14 meetings between the teams.

Copyright © 2017 TTWN Media Networks Inc. Photo: Getty Images

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