Once again, the Indiana Pacers came up empty at winning time. This time the damage was done in Toronto where the Raptors gave up a big lead, along with giving the Pacers some hope, before closing strong to secure the 117-102 win.
And all of that happened in the fourth quarter.
But the game as a whole had a strange feel to it, more like a workout than an actual game. Maybe it was the Sunday supper time start, but the Raptors seemed in control all night even though the Pacers continued to hang around. Of course, when a team shoots 60.2% from the floor their going to be in control and really, for the first three quarters the shooting percentage was closer to the mid-60's.
Along with nukin' the nets, the Raptors maintained control of the game by being prepared for the small ball attack of the Pacers this time around. In their last meeting, Jim O'Brien sprung the small lineup on the Raptors in the third quarter and Chris Bosh struggled adjusting and the Raps tried desperately to attack the mismatches, but they were doing it on the fly.
Tonight, Bosh and the Raps were ready to expose the weakness in the small lineup which was at the power forward spot. Bosh lured Danny Granger into two early fouls which combined with his third foul early in the second quarter to keep 33 tethered to the bench for much of the first half which didn't help things.
JOB tried his hand at tiny ball with Granger out by putting Dahntay Jonesat the power forward in charge of checking Bosh. While leaning on Bosh with a forearm, Jones was staring the Raps' All-Star in the lower back. Eleven seconds after relieving Granger, Dahntay had his first foul and a few trips later his second. This wasn't working.
Bosh wasn't lighting up the scoreboard early (he saved that for later), just the Pacers' defensive scheme. With teammates knocking down shots, Bosh garnered all of the attention but kept the ball moving and the Raps seemed to always find the right shooter on offense. It was one of those nights for the Pacers, where unsung opponents feel the love of the home-town fans. Tonight Sonny Weems and Antoine Wrightfit tha descriptions with 13 (career high) and 15 points, respectively.
But this game was far from a beat-down, more like a roller coaster ride which is where the Pacers get credit for continuing to come back at the Raptors despite their efficient offensive night. When Toronto pushed the lead out to 16 during one of the Pacers' patented third quarter blah jobs, it appeared the lead would more likely grow to 30 than shrink to zero.
The Pacers were able to linger around by trimming the deficit to nine by the end of the third quarter and then opened the final quarter with an 11-2 run to tie the game with 8 minutes remaining to play. Nothing short of amazing and fueled by Mike Dunleavy and Luther Head.
With the game tied, it was truly winning time and Bosh rose up and lifted his team to the win by scoring 8 points in the final 8 minutes. The Pacers on the other hand came up empty, outscored 20-5 and making only on field goal as their hopes for a win vanished in a hurry.
At least with the home-and-home, the Pacers have a chance to revise their strategy and
A few more thoughts on the loss:
- Chris Bosh ended up with a monster game, sticking out like a sore thumb as the best player on the court. He finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists along with a couple of highlight-worthy blocks.
- Danny Granger was far from even the best player on the court for the Pacers. The foul trouble hurt him early, but his continued shooting struggles made for an all-around ugly night. The now one-time All-Star made just 3 of 13 shots and finished with 8 points.
- Troy Murphy started strong and looked like he might play Raptors-killer again, but cooled off to have minimal impact. In fact, I'm surprised to see he played over 30 minutes because it didn't seem like he was out there that much.
- Brandon Rush also had his moments in this game. In the second quarter, Toronto appeared to be making a run similar to the run they ended up making in the third quarter, but Rush scored the last five points of the half to keep the Pacers within touch. After a 12-point first half, Rush would only score two more points and was nowhere to be found at winning time.
- The Pacers' bench came through when called upon. Luther head made some big shots in the second half and finished with 15 points. When Roy Hibbert founds some minutes he did pretty well in the post, finishing with 12 points in 20 minutes. A.J. Priceand Dahntay Jones each scored 8. Still the bench was outscored 45-43 by Toronto.
- Part of the Toronto bench scoring was due to the absence of Hedo Turkoglu. About a minute into the game, Mike Dunleavy drew a charge on Hedo with the initial contact coming when Hedo's schnoz met Dunleavy's elbow. He would not return and Antoine Wright would make sure he wasn't missed.
- Jarrett Jack played a solid second half, knocking down a couple of disheartening 3-balls and finishing with 16 points and 6 rebounds.