The Indiana Pacers survived 18 turnovers and numerous defensive lapses, not to mention missed shots, to drag an opening-night W back across the border on Wednesday night.
The Toronto Raptors showed how much they've improved and toughened up most of the night, but the Pacers found a way to take care of business down the stretch at both ends of the floor to secure the first win of the season. With Danny Granger out, every W is precious and to start off on a positive note to give the young Pacers more confidence was huge.
The Pacers second unit had its problems but deserve credit for keeping the Pacers within striking distance to begin the fourth quarter. From there veteran David West simply willed the young fellas to follow him to the win, although the team defense had to come up with some stops to take advantage of West's otherworldly effort on the offensive end.
With 4:23 left in the game, the Pacers were down eight points (86-78) after failing to rotate defensively and giving Kyle Lowry an uncontested layup. I commented at the time that the Pacers would need a stop or three to get back in the game.
As it turns out, the Pacers needed five stops (hey, I'm and English major) to take the lead and they got 'em while West and George Hill combined to cash in those stops with the game-winning points on the offensive end.
Here's how it happened:
- Out of the time out, Paul George made a ridiculously sweet pass into David West look routine, which allowed West to drop in a little right-handed runner. The bucket notched West's 10th straight points for the Pacers. (TOR up 86-80).
- Stop 1: Andrea Bargnani dribble off a pick and front-rimmed an 18-footer from above the free throw line. Gerald Green rebounded the ball to go the other way (TOR up 86-80).
- On offensive end, West went for the heat check and settled for a baseline jumper which bounced off the rim. Sneaking in off the baseline, Paul George was able to get a hand on the rebound which kept the ball alive for Roy Hibbert to dive on, call time out and save the possession. In a game where the Pacers seemed a step slow to every 50-50 balll, this was a huge play.
- The play became monstrous when the Pacers came out of the timeout and George Hill knocked down a corner 3-ball to cut the lead to three points with 3:15 left in the game. (TOR up 86-83)
- Stop 2: Lowry gets stuck under hoop on a drive, kicks out to the "bubbling" Calderon who passed up the 3-ball and passed to DeRozan in the corner. DeRozan's 3-point attempt bounced to DWest. (TOR up 86-83)
- Paul George and David West play a nice little two-man game and West eventually smooches another bucket off the glass after Andrea Bargnani flopped trying to draw a foul. (TOR up 86-85)
- Kyle Lowry tries to make a play with another questionable drive, but drew the foul with an off-balance shot. Lowry made both free throws. (TOR up 88-85)
- After nearly losing the ball, Paul George tracked it down in the backcout, attacked the defense and found an open David West in the corner...for three. OK, THIS was a DWest heat check. The ball bounced to Lowry and the Raps had the lead and ball with 1:43 to play. (TOR up 88-85)
- Stop 3: Jose Calderon had a shot at the top of the key contested by George Hill and it bounced off the side of the rim to Paul George for his 13th rebound. (TOR up 88-85)
- George Hill drew two defenders as the Raps inexplicably left David West wide open in his money zone, 15 feet out on the baseline, to make his final bucket of the game. (TOR up 88-87)
- Stop 4: Kyle Lowry came off a pick but appeared to try to draw another foul. With George Hill on his heels, Lowry shot a jumper while flailing his lower body. There was no contact other than the ball clanking off the rim. (TOR up 88-87)
- The ball bounced to George Hill and he pushed it up the court, eventually drawing a foul by Lowry on a layup attempt. Hill made one of two free throws to tie the game with a minute to play. (88-88)
- Stop 5: Once again, Jose Calderon passed the ball and hero duties to DeMar DeRozan and the young wing came up short on a wild drive on Paul George. PG grabbed his 14th rebound. (88-88)
- After George Hill bounced a corner three, the Pacers came up with a key break. Both Calderon and Gerald Green tapped the ball out of bounds and after replay, the Pacers maintained possession of the ball with 22.1 seconds remaining. Hill then worked the clock down and when the Raps covered up David West on a pick and slip, GHill took the ball in the lane and drop a soft tear drop through the net for the game winner. (IND 90-88)
- Stop 6: So after getting the five stops needed to take the lead. The Pacers still needed a stop with 2.1 seconds left to secure the win. The Raptors looked to Andrea Bargnani to tie the game on the baseline, but David West made life miserable for the big fella and his flailing, baseline fadeaway never had a chance.
- Final: IND 90-88