Game Rewind: Pacers 101, Raptors 83 (Game 6)
This series is going the distance.
The Indiana Pacers rallied from a first-half deficit, seized control with an 18-0 run over the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters, and cruised to a 101-83 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of their best-of-seven First Round series on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The two teams will meet once again on Sunday in Toronto for a winner-take-all Game 7.
Indiana outscored Toronto 61-39 after halftime to rack up the biggest margin of victory in the entire series. All five starters scored in double figures for the Pacers and just as importantly, the bench combined for 27 points in what was a complete team effort.
“We were looking for a game like that the whole series,” Pacers center Ian Mahinmi said after the win. “We were looking for the starting five to get going at the same time and then the bench to come in and get going, too. I’m glad it came at the biggest time of the year.”
The end result didn’t seem likely early after the Pacers got off to a slow start, making just two of their first 15 shots as Toronto jumped out to an early 18-6 lead.
But Indiana eventually found a rhythm with Mahinmi scoring in the paint and Solomon Hill knocking down a couple threes off the bench. Indiana scored the final nine points of the first quarter to cut the Raptors’ lead to two points.
The Blue & Gold briefly tied the game at 30 on Myles Turner’s tip-in with 6:45 left in the second quarter, but the Raptors quickly responded with a 10-2 run.
Once again, the Pacers closed the quarter strong, cutting an eight-point deficit in half before the halftime buzzer sounded.
The hosts finally moved in front in the third quarter, thanks in large part to the starting backcourt of George Hill and Monta Ellis, who combined for 19 points in the period. Hill scored five points from the field and five more from the foul line, while Ellis scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting.
The Pacers closed the third quarter by reeling off six straight points to open up a seven-point lead, but they really put the game away in the opening minutes of the fourth.
Paul George opened the period with a reverse layup on the very first possession. After a Kyle Lowry turnover, Turner knocked down a jumper. Then, Rodney Stuckey stole the ball from Norman Powell and found George for a breakaway dunk, forcing a timeout from Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.
Things only got better from there for the Blue & Gold. Stuckey — much-maligned after a poor showing in the fourth quarter of Game 5 — knocked down an open three on the next Pacers possession. And after a Lowry miss, Stuckey got the ball in the right corner, got Cory Joseph to bite on a vicious ball fake, drove along the baseline, and dished to Myles Turner for a layup plus the foul.
The play sent the crowd into hysterics and even had the victorious locker room buzzing. Paul George replayed the video of the move on his phone and then joked with Stuckey about his penchant for ball fakes. The night was a vindication of sorts for Stuckey, though the Pacers’ sixth man insisted he was able to quickly move on after Tuesday’s loss.
“After Game 5, I forgot about it,” Stuckey said. “…I don’t reminisce about what I did, a missed shot, no. Game 5 is over and you move on.”
Turner’s free throw capped 18 unanswered points from the Pacers in just a 2:46 span, putting the game away for good.
The rest of the night was a celebration for the sellout crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which erupted on several occasions, be they emphatic rejections by Turner, Solomon Hill’s 3-pointer that pushed the lead over 20 points, or Stuckey’s three a short while later while falling into the Raptors’ bench.
“This was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played in,” Turner said. “I know it feels like I say that every game, but the crowd was into it from the beginning and it was an exciting game, although we got off to a rough start, we were able to come back…It was an incredible experience.”
George, playing extended minutes in a do-or-die game, led all scorers with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. The All-Star forward was also a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
Turner added 15 points, nine boards, and four blocks. Ellis scored nine of his 14 points in the third quarter and dished out five assists. Hill and Mahinmi each added 12 points in the victory.
“That’s what we talked about all along,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said about the balanced effort. “Paul George can’t beat the Raptors (by himself). The Pacers have to beat the Raptors. We need everybody and we got really solid contributions from almost everybody that played.”
Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll and guard Cory Joseph each had 15 points to lead Toronto. Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Toronto’s All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for just 18 points on 7-of-27 shooting. The duo also had eight of the Raptors’ 17 turnovers, though Lowry did dish out 10 assists.
Game 7 will be at 8:00 PM on Sunday in Toronto and will be televised nationally on TNT.
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers outrebounded Toronto 44-40 overall and 23-12 in the second half.
Indiana forced 10 of the Raptors’ 17 turnovers over the final two quarters, including six in the fourth.
Stuckey scored all eight of his points after halftime. His eight points were the most he had scored in a game this postseason and his most in any playoff game since March 26, 2009 (Stuckey’s teams failed to reach the playoffs in the six seasons between).
The Pacers were 23-of-26 from the free throw line (88.5 percent), while Toronto was just 16-for-25 (64 percent).
All five Pacers starters had a positive plus-minus and four of the five were +14 or better, but the Pacers’ best two ratings belonged to Solomon Hill (+32) and Stuckey (+29).
You Can Quote Me On That
“I thought my job tonight was just to be a threat, put pressure on them, move the ball, pick them apart with passes, try to get them to shift. My teammates, they were the ones that really did the damage tonight. I had plays here and there, but they were the ones that did most of the damage.” -George