After the frustrating finish to Indiana’s road trip, they came home and made quick work of the Toronto Raptors, who had won six of their previous nine. Both teams came out of the gate rusty, were Indiana was able to find a groove thanks to a quick start from Danny Granger and Darren Collison, which pushed the Pacers to a ten point lead as the first quarter wound down, a double digit lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Pacers left all their troubles on the road, and were smoking hot from the three point arc, quickly pushed their 13-point first quarter lead to 21 on three pointers galore from James Posey, Mike Dunleavy, and Brandon Rush. Indiana doubled up Toronto early in the second, and did so with five of their first six field goals being three pointers. Toronto just couldn’t muster up the firepower to respond to the onslaught.
The Pacers took a 24-point lead into the half, and came out looking sluggish. They committed numerous turnovers early in the third quarter. The Raptors managed to squeeze the lead to 15 before Rush responded with a three pointer to put the game out of reach. The Pacers struggled most of the third quarter before closing out on a 10-3 run in the final 2:30.
The team certainly came out complacent. I don’t think a lot needs to be read into regarding the struggles. The Pacers were hot, and cooled down in the third. Their fire in the second half can’t be held accountable. It’s what happens when you win a game in 24 minutes and still have to play for 24 more. The Pacers managed to put a stamp on the game with a strong close to the third quarter, so all is well. Toronto wasn’t able to push the game within 17 the rest of the way as Indiana rolled through the fourth quarter to an easy breezy 124-100 victory.
Defensively, the Pacers were quick to react to Andrea Bargnani, as to not be burnt by him the same way they were torched by Channing Frye on Friday. The offensive movement was tremendous. The team assisted on 19 of the 27 field goals in the first half and did so mainly from inside. As the same ended, Darren Collison ended up with just 1 assist, but Roy Hibbert and Josh McRoberts combined for 12.
Once again, the Pacers found success on remaining active offensively and taking advantage of mismatches, which was helped by Toronto’s confused defensive effort. Tonight was also our first close up at 2008 draft pick Jerryd Bayless in extended minutes. If tonight were a microcosm of whether we made the right choice trading the high upside project, Brandon Rush’s season high 26 points on 18 FGA and 6 three pointers vs. Bayless’s 5 points on 2-10 shooting answered the question for us.
Of course, there’s a lot more to that particular trade than tonight, but Rush has been exceptional lately, really coming to life offensively and defensively, more importantly, doing it consistently.
After the jump, more from the Pacers victory:
- Danny Granger responded to his struggles in Phoenix with 21 points on 9-16 shooting. Granger couldn’t buy a basket on Friday, but quickly made an effort to get easy shots to open up his jump shot. It appeared to work. Granger made some nice moves to the lane, but they weren’t rewarded by free throws. Toronto’s poor defense helped that.
- Josh McRoberts’s 4-11 shooting tonight muddles up the Pacers 55% shooting for the night, but his struggles shooting didn’t carry over into the rest of his game. McRoberts filled up the stat sheet with 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals, playing great defensively.
- Roy Hibbert had a quiet night, finishing with 13 points and 6 boards, but also has 6 assists and shot 6-9 from the field. Tonight, Roy wasn’t a necessity, only a premium, and he played as such. His five turnovers stick out like a black eye on his otherwise solid night.
- Darren Collison personified a Jim O’Brien offense. Once the ball left his hand, the movement continued well past his assist numbers, but was lethal offensively. Collison was the most effective Pacer getting to the line, with 5 attempts (says something, doesn’t it?), shot 6-7 from the field to finish with 17 points. He came up limping before he went to the line late in the fourth, but managed to walk it off, before coming out for the night.
- James Posey played a nice roll in building the lead and maintaining the lead tonight, going for 11 points, with a rare two point FG. Posey came into the game struggling at 4-22 from three, but worked out of it tonight, going a solid 3-7.
- Solomon Jones continued his solid play, making some nice plays around the basket tonight. Tyler Hansbrough got some garbage time action, made four successful trips to the foul line.
Indiana managed to take care of business tonight, but will be presented with a nice consistency check as they travel to Milwaukee to face Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut and the struggling Bucks. Indiana fell shy of a victory a month ago, and will be looking to avenge the loss on Wednesday.