The Toronto Raptors were on the front end of their third back-to-back in Indiana on Friday night against the only remaining unbeaten team in the NBA. After a great first quarter, the Raptors had no answer for the Pacers defense as Indiana held Toronto to just 52 points over the final three quarters. Pacers win 91-84.
The now 6-0 Pacers starters are led by the league’s fourth leading scorer Paul George, early MIP candidate Lance Stephenson, former two-time All-Star David West and the league leader in blocked shots Roy Hibbert. C.J. Watson has replaced George Hill in the starting lineup for the past 3 games as Hill has been out with a sore hip, but Hill is back for tonight’s game. Danny Granger remains sidelined with a strained calf.
The sliding 2-4 Raptors starting lineup remained the same: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas. Lowry had a chest x-ray after the game on Wednesday and missed practice on Thursday while having his injured finger looked at, but he was expected to play. Casey seemed less committed than usual about who his reserves for this evening would be, perhaps because Steve Novak is back on the active list for the first time since opening night.
First Quarter 32-22 Raptors
The game gets off to a fast start. Valanciunas hits the mid-range jumper. Hibbert responds in the post. Hill nails a three-ball and Lowry responds in kind. Great back-and forth early action by 2 defensive-minded teams 11-11 3.5 minutes in.
Rudy Gay came to play early in this game. Two 3-pointers, 5-7 shooting, 14 points in less than 10 minutes. Hibbert and West have 13 points between them, 25-18 Raptors with 2:10 left.
Gay leads all scorers with 14 points. Lowry and Landry Fields (in 2 minutes) have 5 points each.
Hibbert has 8 points and West has 7 points to lead the Pacers.
Raptors out rebounding the Pacers 10-8.
Second Quarter 46-44 Raptors
Aaron Gray, D.J. Augustin, Landry Fields and Tyler Hansbrough start the second quarter with Terrence Ross replacing DeRozan 1.5 minutes in.
With some concern, Lance Stephenson immediately heads to the locker room.
Raptors start the quarter shooting 0-6 with Ross, Hansbrough, Augustin and Gray missing layups. Pacers go on a 9-2 run, 34-31 Raptors. Coach Casey had the 5 reserves on the floor together for far too long letting the Pacers back in the game. Hill nails the 3-bomb and the game is tied.
Pacers run ends when Johnson and Gay re-enter the game. As the Raptors starters return, momentum starts swinging back to Toronto. Lowry keeps finding Gay in the paint. An alley-opp dunk followed by the fake shot and pass to the front of the basket for a cutting Gay to dunk.
Gay has 22 points in the half and has blocked George at the rim. However, nothing is falling for DeRozan, 1-9 for 2 points. Johnson leads with 6 boards. Lowry has 5 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists.
Hibbert leads the Pacers with 12 points. Hill has 11 points, George has 5 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists on 2-10 shooting. Orlando Johnson has 7 points off the bench.
The Raptors are out rebounding the Pacers 23-16 and leading in blocked shots 5-1, Valanciunas and Gay with 2 blocked shots each.
Third Quarter 72-59 Pacers
Lance Stephenson returns after half and seems to be okay.
Pacers open with 10 unanswered points for a 13-0 run, 54-46 Pacers lead. Raptors just weren’t ready for this level of intensity. An individual effort by Gay to block George again and then get to the free throw line temporarily ends the run.
DeRozan finally finds the bottom of the net on a jump shot, 56-50, but he misses his next jumper and the Pacers run the lead back to double-digits. His lack of scoring is letting the Pacers throw an extra defender on Gay.
Stone comes in as the quarter winds down to replace Lowry – Augustin did not play well in the first half.
Paul George nails the 3 as time expires. George shoots 5-9 and scores 17 points in the quarter for 22 points in the game.
Gay continues to lead all scorers with 24 points. Lowry is working on a triple-double 10 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists with a quarter left to go.
Fourth Quarter 91-84 Pacers
Fourth quarter starts badly for the Raptors, 78-62 Pacers after Watson’s steal off Stone and Hansbrough turns it over by traveling.
Raptors get back to within 10 continuously, but they can’t get stops. Pacers seem to be on cruise control through the fourth quarter, happy to trade baskets.
Three minutes to go 86-76 Pacers, Gay with the ball, but misses the contested jumper. Raptors get another chance, but the Lowry three hits only backboard. Two minutes to go, stuck 10 points and Coach Casey waves the white flag and empties his bench.
Gay finishes with 30 points, 3 steals and 3 blocks on 12-26 shooting as he was the Raptors offense and the Pacers clamped down on him after half. Johnson had a 12 point 10 rebound double-double. Lowry finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. DeRozan shot 2-15 for 6 points.
George came alive in the second half to finish with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists on 7-21 shooting. Hibbert contributed 20 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Hill had a much bigger impact than his 14 points, he was a +19 in the game.
The Raptors did out rebound the Pacers overall 42-38, but the Pacers reversed the first half block totals and the teams ended up with 6 blocks each.
The Raptors will return home Saturday to play the Jazz. Their next 2 games are on the road, Monday in Houston and Wednesday in Memphis.
The Pacers head to Brooklyn on Saturday and return home to play Memphis on Monday and Milwaukee on Friday.