Holders Raptors and Clippers kick off campaign with wins - GulfToday

Holders Raptors and Clippers kick off campaign with wins

Holders Raptors and Clippers  kick off campaign with wins

Toronto Raptors’ Fred Van Vleet (right) shoots to score against New Orleans Pelicans during their NBA game in Toronto on Tuesday. Agence France-Presse

Los Angeles: Fred VanVleet scored a career-high 34 points as the Toronto Raptors got their NBA title defence off to a winning start with a 130-122 overtime win over the New Orleans Pelicans while Los Angeles Clippers defeated Los Angeles Lakers in season opener on Tuesday.

Pascal Siakam also tallied 34 points and added 18 rebounds before fouling out of the NBA’s season-opening contest at Scotiabank Arena which featured the Raptors’ championship banner and ring ceremony.

Both teams were missing some big names as the Raptors began life without Kawhi Leonard and the Pelicans lost Anthony Davis in a trade and were missing injured first pick Zion Williamson.

The game was one of two opening night contests with the Los Angeles Lakers taking the court later against the Leonard’s new team Los Angeles Clippers. Prior to the tipoff against the Pelicans, the Raptors presented their players and coaches with their rings and unveiled the 2019 championship banner in the rafters of the arena.

The massive ring features over 80 diamonds including 74 in and around the Toronto skyline logo which represents the club’s 74 wins last season.

The Pelicans decided to remain on the floor during the pre-game festivities instead of loosening up in their locker room.

Kyle Lowry chipped in 22 points and Serge Ibaka added 13 for Toronto, whose championship pedigree shone through by outscoring the Pelicans 13-5 in overtime. The teams were tied 117-all at the end of regulation. Nurse blamed their slow start against the Pelicans on the ceremony. Brandon Ingram finished with 22 points to lead the Pelicans. This marks the end of the Leonard period in Toronto as he left as a free agent to join the Clippers.

That means leadership by committee with the load being distributed amongst Lowry, VanVleet and Siakam, who signed a four-year, $130-million contract extension Monday.

The Raptors are also without another key player from their championship team in Danny Green, who departed as a free agent for the Lakers.

Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard made his Los Angeles debut a successful one on Tuesday as his Clippers upstaged LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers 112-102 to get their new campaign off to a winning start. Leonard wasted no time roaring back into action, leading the way in the season-opener with his new team after powering the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title last season.

Agence France-Presse

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