3 reasons the Pelicans thumped the short-handed Raptors

Mar 5, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III (25) shoots the ball
Mar 5, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III (25) shoots the ball / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Four Point Play! Pelican Debrief's way to recap last night's action. The hope here is that in a quick read, you'll learn everything you need to know about last night's game through stats, highlights, opinions, and ideally a couple of laughs (laughs not promised). Let's get it started.

One Highlight of the night

An absolute no-brainer. Brandon Ingram is known for his buttery mid-range game and shooting touch, so this play was out of character for the lanky wing. The veteran star showed off a killer crossover and a killer instinct on his rampage to the bucket leaving Jordan Nwora in his wake. This one play sums up New Orleans' entire night of dominance.

Two Stats to know

+5 in fast break points
24 made threes

There are two keys to winning games in the modern NBA. Number one: protect the ball. In an era where teams are loaded with hyper-athletic stars, transition buckets are easy to come by. If teams are loose in possession, opponents will eat them alive in the transition game.

Toronto leads the league in fast break points per game (19.0). The young and athletic Raptors thrive on the break. New Orleans came into Toronto and beat them at their own game. The Raptors didn't value the rock and the Pels made them pay.

The second key is to knock down three pointers. The Pelicans average 12.5 made threes per game (also slightly below league average), but they lit up the Raptors for 24 on Tuesday night. The Pelicans were dominant in The Six and these two stats are just a microcosm of their all-around near perfect display.

Three Stars of the game

⭐️: Herb Jones - 17 points, two rebounds, three assists, 5/6 from deep
⭐️⭐️: Zion Williamson - 19 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, two blocks, one steal
⭐️⭐️⭐️: Trey Murphy - 34 points, six rebounds, 10/14 on three-pointers

Last night was the Trey Murphy show. His ten made threes tied a career high, and marked another checkpoint in his post-All Star break resurgence. Murphy is one of the role players that holds the keys to the Pels long-term success. He's a two-way wing on an affordable contract, the most valuable asset in the modern NBA. If his stellar play continues, more money, more points, more accolades, and more minutes are surely on the way.

Four Takeaways

1. Is there a player in NBA history more aptly named than Trey Murphy? It's just fits that the Pelicans best three-point shooter's name is Trey.

2. Tonight proves that the Pelicans' ceiling is absurdly high. Blowing out anybody on the road is an impressive feat, but the way New Orleans did it moves the needle. The favored Pelicans didn't play with their food, they came out firing right away and built up a huge lead before the halftime whistle blew. The starters put on early, and the bench closed it out. A perfect game from start to finish.

3. This is completely anecdotal and definitely a figment of my imagination, but I believe every great championship team has something off the court to rally around. A few examples. The 2022 TCU Horned Frogs had the Hypnotoad. The 2021 Braves had Joc Pederson's pearls. The 2019 Virginia Cavaliers had their redemption arc after losing to UMBC as a one seed the year prior.

The 2024 Pelicans have The Anthem. Retro Pels, a New Orleans Pelicans fan account, has gained social media noterierty with his post-game video that celebrates Pelicans wins. See below.

This anthem doesn't guarantee the Pelicans anything. It's a fun social media trend that the fans (and players) have rallied around. But if there is some truth in my off the court vibes lead to championship success theory, New Orleans can check that box.

4. The Pels have one three of four after losing a winnable game against the Bulls. Their next two games (@Philadelphia and @Atlanta) are key in the Western Conference playoff race. Both of their next two opponents are short-handed and New Orleans needs to continue to stack wins against overmatched teams. If they can extend this win streak to four games, they'll set up a huge three game homestand against Cleveland, the Clippers, and the Trailblazers that will prove to the NBA world at-large what they're made of.