Returning home didn't quite provide the Indiana Pacers with the relief they were looking for in stringing together a second straight win for just the fifth time this season, facing one of the Eastern Conference's top teams in the Toronto Raptors. Despite that, the Pacers did find early success, shooting well in the first quarter and using a 12-0 run into the second quarter to go up 32-21 on Toronto.
Not entirely surprising, that proved to be the high water mark for the Pacers, who summarily allowed a 20-0 run to Toronto, falling behind 42-32. The run lasted four and a half minutes, as Indiana's second unit fumbled nearly every opportunity that came their way, turning it over five times and going 0-5. The five turnovers contributed to nine of Toronto's points in the run, on a night when Toronto outscored the Pacers 24-15 in points off turnovers.
Indiana would respond positively, rattling off an 11-2 run of their own to tie the game at 43-43, but seven straight points by Toronto would push them back ahead, leading at the half 50-44. Early in the third quarter down four, the Pacers had opportunities to trim the lead to two, but fell short. A pair of reviews; a putback by David West that failed to beat the shot clock and a Kyle Lowry shot found to be a three turned a potential 58-55 Raptors lead into a 61-53 lead.
Lowry pushed the lead into double figures with another three, Toronto pushing their lead to 16 at 73-57 in the late stages of the third. The Pacers trimmed the lead to nine heading into the fourth, but a failure to keep pace kept them from drawing any closer in the final quarter, eventually falling 104-91. The result was hardly a surprise, but after a solid first quarter, it was disappointing to see the Pacers dissolve into a stream of bad play, mostly from shooting and turnovers.
Indiana did well overall in terms of turnovers, but a series of bad passes squandered opportunities against a quality opponent, with their shooting mark gradually declining over the course of the night, dropping to 41.4% overall. Free throws also played a role in the loss, with Indiana shooting just 16-23 from the line, while Toronto made 27 of 34.
Individually, the Pacers got good play from Rodney Stuckey, especially in the first half. Stuckey had 14 of his 22 in the first half, shooting 8-16 from the floor and leading Indiana in FTA with seven, hitting six of them. Five Pacers reached double figures, with Solomon Hill scoring 15. Hill hit three of Indiana's seven three pointers on the night.
George Hill also played well late, scoring 13 off the bench for the Pacers, though he shot just 5-14. Hill lifted a bad night from the bench, who had just 25 points total, succumbing to 42 Raptors bench points. In the starting lineup, Roy Hibbert and David West each scored 11, coming up with near double doubles with nine and eight rebounds apiece.
West played very well early, with him and Roy playing a big defensive advantage that helped start the game in Indiana's favor 9-0. But foul trouble on Hibbert, and then on Ian Mahinmi, forced action for Lavoy Allen, who had three points in four minutes of action. Foul trouble forced Indiana to have to choose their matchups, but in a game where Toronto had so many matchup advantages, it didn't help the Pacers to have to look away from what could be advantages for them.
Ultimately, it may not have mattered what happened in tonight's game. Over the course of 48 minutes, the Raptors proved to be a vastly superior team, forcing the Pacers into their ninth loss in their last 11 games. The loss puts Indiana at 16-31 and just 8-12 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana will tip on Thursday night against the New York Knicks, though recent lack of success in "winnable games" hardly makes the Knicks a pushover, especially as they've found a groove with three straight wins.