The Toronto Raptors are now 17-6 on the season following a convincing 106-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers. 11 months ago, this would have been an amazing statement win for the Atlantic division upcomers. Now? Just another night at the office for the Eastern Conference leaders, taking care of business versus a below-.500 team in front of the home crowd. There were moments when the Pacers made runs to keep the game within striking distance, but whenever things got too close for comfort, the Raptors were able to get back to the things that helped them establish the lead.
Tonight’s game saw the Raptors pace their 12 point victory with a balanced scoring effort. Offensive contributions came from an array of sources, with eight players coming away with eight or more points. The ball was moving, and the Pacers defense was kept honest with a healthy mix of different offensive looks from the men in white. Extra passes around the perimeter were made to generate open looks from downtown, and post play was utilized in appropriate moments. The Raptors assisted on 21 of 38 made field goals. Why the B- then? Only because the shots weren’t dropping as much as they should have, seeing as the team only shot 42% (33 for 91) from the field. Still, the positives outweighed the negatives tonight.
The Raptors bench scored 64 out of the team’s 106 points tonight. In a game where Kyle Lowry had a quiet nine points and seven assists, Lou Williams, James Johnson, and Patrick Patterson led the way with 26, 13, and 11 points respectively. Also worth noting: the Raptors succeeded in cashing in from the charity stripe all game long, going 20 for 22, while taking and making their fair share of threes (10 for 26). This is how 106 point scoring nights happen despite “meh” team field goal percentages.
Indiana’s offense this season hasn’t been anything to write home about. Then again, neither has Toronto’s defense. Yes, the 106 points look sexy on the boxscore, but something tells me that coach Dwane Casey will be more proud of the 48 minute defensive effort that his team put forth tonight. There were a couple momentary lapses, but for the most part, the Raptors looked great on this end of the floor. The Pacers shot 41% from the floor (33 for 80) as a team and were led by Solomon Hill‘s 16 points off the bench. They too cashed in from the charity stripe with excellent efficiency (20 for 23) and nailed their threes at a decent clip (8 for 22). The main difference between the teams tonight: refer to the next section of the report card.
52-39. That was the rebounding margin for the Raptors in tonight’s matchup. Not only did the Raps finish their defensive possessions with the rebounds they couldn’t pull down against the Cleveland Cavaliers in their previous loss, but they also turned the tables by creating the same headache for their opponent and grabbing offensive boards of their own. Tonight’s game versus the Pacers saw the Raptors outrebound Roy Hibbert and company 16-6 on the offensive, swaying the momentum of the game in their favour. The A+ is justified by the group effort that the home team brought in this one. Jonas Valanciunas dominated in the battle with the opposing Pacers center, outrebounding Hibbert 14-2. No typo there. Some of the Raptors weren’t half bad, either— Patterson pulled down eight, while Ross came away with seven of his own. As a whole, Toronto had seven players finish with four or more boards. Not too shabby.
Game Ball – Lou Williams
Another game, another solid offensive night for Toronto’s sharpshooting offseason pickup. A cool 26 off the pine was enough to earn him the game ball for this one. The Raptors will need him to keep things up as they attempt to give themselves a boost in the standings over this next stretch of games versus sub-.500 teams.
Next stop, New York!