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Toronto Raptors 108, Indiana Pacers 98: Barbosa Lights Up Pacers, Free Fall Continues

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Paul George made a free throw midway through the first quarter to give the Indiana Pacers a 14-13 lead. For the next 43 glorious second of game time, the Pacers held on to the lead.

Then it was gone. For good.

The Toronto Raptors used a 29-point burst of energy off the bench from Leandro Barbosa, to push the Pacers down double-digits and keep them chasing for the rest of the game. Toronto's 108-98 win increases the Pacers' losing streak to six games.

The strain to compete with the now 18-win Raptors also extends a remarkable and sudden free fall from what appeared to be a season-saving turn around just a few weeks ago. Sir Isaac Newton would surely revisit what he thought he knew about gravity were he around to witness this rapid drop to terra firma.

And as the final buzzer sounded tonight, the wild, six-week ride the Pacers have been on since Jim O'Brien was fired came around full circle. If you recall, six weeks ago the Pacers began their 7-1 stretch under Frank Vogel (I know, it only feels like 6 months ago) with a renewed effort and solid win over the Toronto Raptors.

The Pacers put the game away down the stretch, but with a one second difference between the shot clock and the game clock at the end of the game, Darren Collison chucked up a 35-foot shot instead of just turning the ball over and it went in. The frustrated Raptors took exception. In fact, maybe the basketball gods did too because it seems like they've exacted their revenge on Collison of late.

Well tonight, Leandro Barbosa took the ball to the rim at the end of regulation which brought out the best defensive effort from the Pacers on the night when Danny Granger met him to defend the layup for Tyler Hansbrough to clear. Heated words were exchanged as Barbosa reminded Granger and Josh McRoberts that he was trying to pay them back for DC's three. It was the highlight of the night for the Pacers. They may have been embarrassed throughout the game, but they didn't get punked at the end by Barbosa.

Sigh.

After the jump, a few more thoughts on the game including some signs of life.

  • Yes, the Pacers showed some signs of life in the second half, playing with a little sense of urgency, making plays and actually outscoring their opponent in the final 24 minutes. Yep, it was the Raptors and the Pacers still lost by ten, but the effort was a vast improvement over the humiliating exhibition in Minnesota.
  • Darren Collisonwas among the few to show a spark of life in the second half. He had a handful of shots that went in and out, but finally started to get things going in the second half finishing with 13 points, 7 assists and only 1 turnover. Now if he could guard the ball.
  • Danny Granger made three 3-pointers and scored 25 points, but I would hardly say he is back in the groove. His body language remained frustrated-mopey which showed up on the defensive end. Those frustrations seem to keep him from busting butt back on defense after things break down defensively.
  • Tyler Hansbrough had another solid effort, playing heavy minutes thanks to early foul trouble for Roy Hibbert and Jeff Foster. Hansbroughfinished with20 points and 7 rebounds, but struggled to deal with another rebounding specialist. Reggie Evans can do one thing (no, not shoot free throws) and that is rebound which he did to the tune of 16 caroms including 6 on the offensive glass that drove the Pacers nutty.
  • The Pacers struggles to defend the Raptors in the first half helped jump-start the Raptors and make it difficult to slow them down much once the Pacers started playing better. The 62-point first half for the Pacers was the sixth time in the past eight games that the Pacers have given up 60 points or more in the first half.
  • Roy Hibbert went with some banana peel high tops for tonight's game, but wasn't able to wear out the tread much. Foul trouble limited hibbert to 20 minutes of playing time which strongly resembled his rookie year.
  • On the rookie watch, Paul George played over 30 minutes and finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Lance Stephenson was a DNP-CD which will probably continue until the dust settles around this team or they are officially eliminated from the playoffs.
  • The Pacers head to New York to take on the Knickson Sunday evening. They will have to play with a little more pride than they have the past few games or they will be embarrassed in a hurry. Charlotte beat Portland tonight to move into a tie with the Pacers for the 8th spot in the East.