No Kyle Lowry? No Amir Johnson?
The Toronto Raptors battled tough against the Eastern Conference’s finest and pulled off an impressive 102-94 victory against the Indiana Pacers in front of a sell-out crowd at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto (44-32) is now twelve games above .500 for the first time since 2007 and has built a 2 1/2 game lead on the Brooklyn Nets for the Atlantic Division crown. Terrence Ross led the way with 24 points, Jonas Valanciunas contributed 22 points and nine rebounds while DeMar DeRozan chipped in a casual 20 points. Indiana (53-24) received production from bigs David West and Roy Hibbert, who combined for 33 points and nine rebounds. Paul George also filled the stat board, scoring 26 points, collecting six rebounds and dishing out three assists.
50 wins, here we come!
The Raptors showcased an exceptional offensive effort against the NBA’s stingiest defense. In the first half, the team did a great job distributing the ball and connected on 53.5 % of their shots (23-43). Moreover, they pounded the rock inside and edged the Pacers in the paint, outscoring Indiana 24-16. The second half was a bit of a different story as Indiana intensified their defense and limited Toronto to 48 points. Overall, the Raptors finished the night with a 47.6 field goal % on (40-84) shooting. Not bad at all.
Lately, the Pacers have been the bud of NBA jokes for their offensive deficiencies. Indiana’s offensive shortcomings were yet again evidenced tonight, as the Pacers scored less than 100 points for the ninth time in their past 10 contests. Toronto limited Indiana to 42.3 % shooting, generated 11 turnovers (scoring 16 points off of those turnovers) and forced six steals and five blocks. Kudos to the Raptors for being extra opportunistic on the defensive end.
The Raptors displayed a strong rebounding effort against an Indiana team that ranks sixth overall in the NBA with 45.0 rebounds per game. Toronto outrebounded the Pacers 42-39 and did so without one of their leading rebounders, Amir Johnson. Hibbert only pulled down two rebounds tonight which goes to show how tough the Raptors were on the glass.
Game Ball: Terrence Ross
The sophomore wing was terrific and hit big basket after big basket. The former Washington Husky scored 24 points on 8-17 shooting, amassed five boards along with five three pointers (5-8). Inconsistency has plagued Ross in his young career, but performances like tonight remind Raptornation why he was a No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.