Hard to say the Pacers threw away a win after an eleven point loss, but that's sure what how it feels. Up 17 with seven minutes left in the third quarter, the Pacers couldn't close the deal in the fourth, while the Raptors lethally injected multiple 3-balls to beat the pending snow storm out of town with a 104-93 win.
There was plenty of good play by the Pacers in the first two and a half quarters, but the loss smudges the shine, making it irrelevant at this point. The reciprocal result from Wednesday's win over the Bulls highlights the plight of an average NBA team. The Pacers just can't shake the average label doled out to teams that hover around .500.
So what happened in the fourth?
The Raptors had worked themselves back into the game late in the third quarter. In the fourth, or as Slick calls it, the "Money Quarter", Jason Kapono happened (suddenly a piano riff of Everyday is going through my head). Kapono hit four 3-balls and was fouled on another attempt in the fourth quarter alone. Yes, he made all three free throws. Jermaine O'Neal picked up a technical, giving Kapono a fourth freebie for his efforts. At that point, the game was long gone, since the Raptors had just completed an 18-0 run after trailing 90-86 with 4:55 left in the game. Nope, not a typo.
A guy like Kapono gets hot, what can you do? Well, guarding him would be a start. Slick mentioned Mike Dunleavy getting caught in no man's land, giving Kapono enough space to shoot. On three of the four makes, I can agree. Forget the helpside defense when Kapono has flames flickering from his fingers. Blanket the guy and let someone else beat you. One of Kapono's makes was very well defended. Dunleavy was all over Kapono as the ball swung his way in front of the Pacers' bench. No sooner did the ball touch Kapono's hands at head-level than it was released and heading for another splashdown. Incredible.
What happened to the Pacers offense?
At crunch time the Pacers couldn't come up with any key buckets. Dunleavy and Granger were nowhere to be found. Jamaal Tinsley at least tried to make some big buckets. He was able to get inside several times and appear to draw a foul, but the refs seem to avert their eyes when Tins is involved.
There were also way too many possessions (more than one) where the offense stood and Tins tried to force feed J.O. in the post. When the Pacers slow it down and don't get foul calls, there's no other scoring options and the ball usually goes the other way. Although Tins and J.O. unsuccessfully tried to draw fouls on five or six possessions down the stretch, they had no problem drawing technicals in the waning moments of the game.
Complete meltdown -- an appropriate ending to a frustrating loss that had the look of a win for most of the night.