Game Rewind: Pacers 99, Raptors 106
The Indiana Pacers headed into their season opener on Wednesday night in Toronto looking to make a statement. And at times, Indiana looked poised to steal a road win over a Raptors team that won 49 games and had the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference last season.
But although they got off to a fast start and later put together a strong fourth-quarter rally, the Pacers (0-1) couldn’t quite muster enough to come away with the victory, falling to Toronto (1-0), 106-99.
The Pacers scored 30 points in the first quarter and led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter. Indiana’s defense gave the Raptors fits in the first half, forcing the hosts into 12 turnovers.
But Toronto came out with a different mentality after halftime and dominated the third quarter, scoring 35 points in the period. The Raptors closed the third with an 11-2 run to take a four-point lead, then scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to stretch the margin to double digits.
“They made some tough shots and we had some breakdowns but you are going to have those every game,” Pacers forward C.J. Miles said about that fateful stretch. “We just have to take care of the ball better and stop putting ourselves into the position to have to go into scramble mode, especially when they have guys that can score like that.”
But the Blue & Gold refused to pack it in. They slowly clawed their way back over the next several minutes, eventually tying the game at 93 on Paul George’s jumper with 2:47 to play and taking a brief lead on Ian Mahinmi’s layup on the next possession.
Toronto tied the game once again on Jonas Valanciunas’ tip shot 20 seconds later, then retook the lead when DeMar DeRozan converted a three-point play (and fouled out Mahinmi in the process) with 1:29 remaining.
George had a chance to answer, driving to the rim and converting a tough shot despite contact from Bismack Biyombo. But George missed the ensuing free throw, and DeRozan sank a jumper on the other end to push Toronto’s lead back to three. Indiana missed its final four attempts from the field as Toronto sealed the victory at the charity stripe.
George Hill led Indiana with 19 points in the loss, knocking down 5-of-7 attempts from 3-point range. Miles added 18 points (going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc), while Rodney Stuckey added 16 off the bench.
Paul George made just 4-of-17 shots on the night, though he still finished with 17 points, going 9-for-10 from the free throw line. George made his impact felt in other ways, collecting 12 rebounds, dishing out eight assists, and getting three steals.
“I had to encourage him to still be aggressive and just make smart plays and believe the next shot is going in,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said about George’s night. “I thought he did that and was able to get eight assists, was good at finding people, try to not to force too much. Sometimes you are going to have a tough shooting night you have to impact the game in other ways, so I thought he did that.”
DeRozan led Toronto with 25 points, five rebounds, and six assists. Valanciunas recorded a double-double, scoring 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds. Point guard Kyle Lowry, a first-time All-Star last February, added 23 points and six assists.
The Pacers return to the hardwood on Thursday night, when they’ll host the Memphis Grizzlies at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 7:00 PM for Opening Night presented by Kroger.
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers wound up forcing 21 turnovers on the night, while only committing 13 themselves.
Top free agent signing Monta Ellis battled foul trouble in the first half, only logging a little over nine minutes before the break. Ellis finished with nine points on just 3-of-11 shooting in 28:32, though he did dish out six assists.
New starting center Ian Mahinmi finished with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and two blocks before fouling out in the game’s final minutes.
Toronto outrebounded Indiana 50-40 and also had 17 team rebounds to the Pacers’ eight.
The Raptors outscored the Pacers 46-36 in the paint and 22-10 in second chance points. Indiana, however, had a 20-9 advantage in fastbreak points.
You Can Quote Me On That
“This whole game was a swing off of us not making shots. Every time we missed they got the ball and they were going. We make those shots this game is a lot slower for them, where they set up. Just how we started the game out, ball was going in and they had to take their time coming down. We missed shots, which opened the game up for them.” -Paul George
“It looked good at times, it looked not so good at times. I thought we lost focus in the third quarter which was the big quarter for Toronto offensively but enough positives that I can be encouraged.” -Frank Vogel
“I will admit that we were nervous to start the game, not knowing who we are and how we were going to play together. We settled down and started taking the shots that were there. Myself and DeMar (DeRozan) really stepped up our defensive intensity a bit.” -Lowry
“That’s what he’s got to do. I thought he wasn’t as physical and aggressive in the first half…you’ve got to play with force, especially against a physical team like Indiana.” -Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on DeRozan’s strong closing performance
Stat of the Night
The Paul George-Monta Ellis combination figures to light up the scoreboard on many occasions, but both players struggled to find their shot on Wednesday. The two players combined to shoot just 7-for-28 from the field (25 percent).
“I don’t think Monta (Ellis) and Paul George are going to shoot as poorly as they did tonight,” Vogel said after the loss. “…I think those guys will bounce back and respond. They are great offensive players so I’m interested in seeing that.
- Pacers first round draft pick Myles Turner was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game with a sore right ankle. Turner was active in Toronto, but did not play as Frank Vogel opted to give backup center minutes to the healthier Jordan Hill.
- Second round pick Joe Young made his NBA debut, playing 2:04 at the end of the first half. His only contribution to the box score was one foul.
- Second-year forward Glenn Robinson III was inactive due to a sore right shoulder.