NEW ORLEANS — Eric Gordon stood in front of his locker, all set to shower after New Orleans’ 107-100 loss to Toronto.
But he couldn’t peel himself away from the final statistical sheet from the game.
He only shook his head, his eyes glued to one significant outlier.
Toronto’s 86 shots, or 19 more than Gordon’s Pelicans put up.
“They got up so many shots on us,” Gordon said. “That will always give you a chance, no matter what.”
Gordon, meanwhile, was part of the problem for New Orleans (27-40). After scoring 15 points in the first half, he only put up three more shots in the second half after getting into third-quarter foul trouble.
The other part of the problem?
New Orleans was without All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who missed the game with an upper respiratory infection. With Davis sitting on the bench, New Orleans could do nothing to stop Toronto (38-29) from taking over the paint in the third quarter.
The Raptors had 11 offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points in the final 12 minutes, helping overturn what had been a comfortable New Orleans lead.
“I mean you look at 22 offensive rebounds, that’s enough right there,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “And just finishing around the basket. We had so many opportunities to finish around the basket and couldn’t do it tonight.”
Rookie Jeff Withey, who finished with nine points and four rebounds in his first career start, put what missing Davis meant differently than his coach.
“Yeah, he’s a freak athlete,” Withey said. “He helps the team out a ton. Last game he had 21 rebounds. Obviously with a guy that can rebound like Anthony, it’s hard to make up for that.”
Yet, it wasn’t necessarily a lack of Davis that killed the Pelicans. Even without him, they built a 14-point first-half lead and still had control of the game.
Until the fourth quarter.
That’s when former New Orleans point guard Greivis Vasquez took over. His 5-0 run single handedly changed the complexion of the game.
With the game tied 94-94, he hit a floating six-foot jumper. After New Orleans’ Brian Roberts missed a 12-footer, Vasquez came right back and situated himself in front of the Pelicans bench.
He missed the 3-pointer, but followed it up, grabbed the rebound and went to the basket. Vasquez hit the layup, was fouled by Al-Farouq Aminu and sank the free throw.
With 1:21, New Orleans suddenly trailed 99-94 and watched Toronto complete a 12-1 run that took the game away from the Pelicans.
“I like close games, man,” said Vasquez, who finished with 14 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. “I’m not afraid. I would never be afraid. I’m the type of player that would risk everything.”