Tonight the Toronto Raptors played a very good Indiana Pacers basketball team and came up short. Both teams were affected by the recent cold weather and weren’t able to make it into Indiana until earlier this afternoon. In a matchup of two defensive minded teams, this game was exactly what you’d expect; a grinder. The Raptors didn’t show up for most the game with the exception of DeMar DeRozan who single handedly kept Toronto in the mix finishing tonight’s contest with a game high in both points and assists (28 pts & 6 ast). This was a very physical contest with some questionable calls, but tonight’s contest came down to making shots. With Paul George off his game again (11pts, 5 fouls) the Raptors had every chance to take advantage, however they weren’t able to execute against superior Pacer defence and that’s why they lost 86-79; no excuses in a battle like this.
Tonight the Toronto Raptors offence just looked off; the players were sluggish, and they seemed to be missing something. An Amir Johnson three pointer to start the game is a warning sign for bad things to come. Apart from Kyle Lowry and DeRozan, the Raptors starters combined for 7 points shooting 11% (2-19 FG). The Raptors as a team shot 37% collectively which isn’t going to win many ball games against elite teams. Johnson became virtually invisible this game, going scoreless and playing only 20minutes. The Raptors might not have made it to the fourth quarter if it wasn’t for DeRozan dropping 17 straight points for the Raps in the third. Then things got interesting when Patrick Patterson decided join DeMar and make it a party dropping a cool 20 points. The Raptors had a chance early in the fourth with Indiana coughing up the ball in consecutive possessions but Toronto seemed to be dancing with two left feet all night.
If there were to be a positive coming out of this victory, it would have to be the Toronto Raptors defence. It’s always expected for this team to come out and pressure the opposing ball club and the Raptors did a great job of that tonight. The Pacers only managed to put up 86 points on 43% shooting which is more than respectable. The Raps kept the Pacers wing players at bay, and for the most part forced Indiana into difficult opportunities at the rim. Regardless it was a great effort put out by the Raptors barring the circumstances of hasty travel and a lack of pre-game preparation.
The Pacers crushed Toronto on the glass this evening 53-36. The Raptors looked out of position, often drawing stupid loose ball fouls fighting for the boards. With Tyler Hansborough out the Raptors lacked the necessary depth upfront needed to compete with the size of Pacers. Chuck Hayes saw time, but he doesn’t bring the motor of a Hansborough; who lets nothing impact his effort. If the Raptors had Tyler tonight, the outcome of this game could’ve been much different. He truly does bring another dimension to this team, his energy was missed dearly tonight against his former team.
Game Ball: Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert put on his big man pants and gets tonight’s game ball, putting up 22 pts 8rebs and 3 blks in gritty game. Hibbert struggled to get things going early in the game with Lance Stephenson controlling things for a while. However once the game slowed down in the second half, Hibbert took over the Raptor bigs using a combination of power and finesse to dominate. His ability to draw contact and get to the line helped further the gap everytime Toronto had a chance to get close (12-13FT).
Other things of note:
Is it too early to get excited for the playoffs?
At one point in the first I couldn’t tell if it was good defence or just bad shots taking Toronto out of the game
Dwane Casey missed a timeout in the first, allowing Indiana to make a 14point swing
Danny Granger is getting his form back which is scary
DeMar the only to show up in the quarter. Fatigue for the players was evident ..but DEMAR was cooking
Greivis Vasquez looks extra slow (like slower than normal)
Woah, this team looks flat.. Vasquez and Hayes short on floaters at the rim.
Wait, why is Hayes shooting?