The Indiana Pacers only needed a win in Toronto to guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason and the Raptors gave them every advantage by resting starters Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Luis Scola. Even the recently returned DeMarre Carroll sat as he isn’t playing back-to-back games yet, but instead of grabbing the win, the Pacers made rookie guards Norman Powell and Delon Wright look like Toronto’s resting All-Stars.
“I don’t think we respected the guys that were out there,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said after the game.
The Raptors rookies combined for 46 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists as they bullied their way to the free throw line for 27 attempts and Toronto coasted to a 111-98 home victory while going deep into their bench.
It was a night of personal bests by Powell and Wright.
Powell playing a season-high 41.2 minutes and blowing past his previous best scoring game (of 18 points) with 27 points on the night. Over half of those points coming at the free throw line as Powell did his best DeRozan impression by drawing fouls driving to the bucket to go 14-19 from the charity stripe. At one point Powell was 10-11 from the line, but he seemed to get a bit tired in the fourth quarter taking advantage of all the opportunities the Pacers kept presenting to him.
“The team just told me to be more aggressive with Kyle and DeMar resting,” Powell said. “I was trying to attack the rim and draw fouls.”
“One thing (Powell) did a good job of, in transition he caught them backpedaling and he’s got that other gear to go to,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey explained. “He’s one of our fastest guys on the team with the ball and he gets guys backpedaling and he does a good job of attacking and getting them in a compromised situation and getting the foul.”
Wright’s previous best was 13 points in a game and he blew that away with a 19 point night in just 26 minutes. The young point guard also had his best game from the line this season going 6-8.
“It just feels good to finally get out there and play when Kyle rests,” Wright said.
“(Wright) just needed an opportunity,” Casey said. “He’s playing behind one of the top point guards in the league in Kyle and one of the top backups in the league in Cory. He stayed ready.”
Casey was justifiably proud of the effort from his rookies.
“They came out and played,” Casey said. “That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about and that’s effort and intensity. I thought our young guys came out and played with a lot of effort and intensity.”
Powell and Wright were the top two scorers in the game. Cory Joseph was the third high scorer with 18 points as the Pacers just couldn’t find a way to slow down any of the Raptors guards.
Monta Ellis led the Pacers with 17 points in the lackluster effort.