After the third quarter, one where the Indiana Pacers were getting throttled by the Toronto Raptors both physically and mentally, a feeling of bleakness overrode the general consensus regarding Indiana's chances in a game they had no answers for. And halfway through the fourth quarter, with the Raptors going up double digits, it was quickly becoming a game defined by turnovers; with the Raptors forcing 19 and outscoring Indiana 17-4 on points off turnovers.
But with the game on the verge of getting out of hand, the Pacers defense began to step up while David West led the charge, carrying the team on his back, on the other end. West finished the night with 25 points, 14 of them coming in the fourth quarter. The Pacers used West to storm back on a 16-4 run to close the game. West was in early foul trouble against Andrea Bargnani, but once he worked his way around the big man, he was able to take over the game.
George Hill, wincing from his hip late in the game, helped close out the night with Indiana's final three points, two of those coming on the game winning tear drop with two seconds left. Hill had 8 points and 7 assists in his first action of the year, helping Indiana with six huge points in Indiana's comeback. He's clearly not 100%, but still played his heart out late.
Paul George was the go-to at the beginning of the game, but struggled to make a scoring impact late. George would finish the night with 14 points, but continued to work in other areas, totaling 15 rebounds and 5 assists. George was in the zone early, taking it to newly minted big money man DeMar DeRozen often.
Roy Hibbert joined with George early to make an impact on the game, battling down low with quality looking rookie Jonas Valanciunas. Hibbert finished with 14 points as well, them coming in the first half, but playing solid defense around the basket to come away with 9 boards and 5 blocks.
The second unit was a real mess in the second quarter, looking as if they'd never played a second together; though in most cases, that's not entirely untrue. Timing was off, passes were rushed, physical and active Raptors defense crowded passing lanes and created a bad show that resulted in a myriad of turnovers. Gerald Green and Ian Mahinmi struggled with ball control, committing 10 of the team's 19 (with Paul George adding another 5).
Sam Young looked capable off the bench in his short time, Lance Stephenson struggled in the fourth quarter defensively, but was able to come up with 5 points and 4 rebounds. D.J. Augustin got some plays late, but it was a quiet game from Tyler Hansbrough that anchored a frustrating second unit. Hansbrough got 8 points in his 20 minutes of action, finding his way to the line for four attempts.
The Pacers have a lot of room to grow, but teaching moments are far more enjoyable on a win than a loss. Ball control was a huge area of concern during the preseason, and it didn't look any better tonight. In Toronto's defense, they were very active and physical on the defensive end. The officials let calls go through most of the game, giving the Raptors a green light to swarm the attack the Pacers. Indiana struggled in response to this, especially when they were a step slow on loose balls and not crisp enough on passes.
Indiana did miss the presence of Danny Granger at times in the second half, it was clear where they were going to miss him as he deals with his knee issue. Even still, the Pacers were able to get enough production to claw out a win; better ball control alone helps clean this game up in Indiana's favor. In the end, however, Indiana is 1-0 on the season, grabbing a big road win as they travel to Charlotte for a Friday night game against the Bobcats.
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