The Indiana Pacers got a much better shot from the Toronto Raptors in Game 2, who played like a team with their season on the brink in what amounted to a victory for the home team. The Pacers led briefly in the first quarter, but quickly fell behind due to an inability to corral Jonas Valanciunas, who once again made a mockery of Indiana's bigs, setting a pick and running towards the basket for an easy lob ad nauseam.
Valanciunas had 13 points in the first quarter, helping Toronto to a 27-16 first quarter lead, a lead they would eventually push to 18 at 40-22 early in the second quarter. The Raptors bench trio of Cory Joseph, Patrick Patterson, and Terrence Ross built that on an 11-1 run. However, as everything fell in Toronto's favor (and Indiana shooting under 30%), Paul George stepped up to score seven straight points as part of a 9-0 run that cut the lead to single digits.
The two-man game of George and Monta Ellis allowed Indiana to finally open up offensively, cutting the lead to five at halftime, trailing 53-48. The Pacers played well out of the break, but shots rolling out for Ian Mahinmi on back-to-back and ones wouldn't help them get over the hump. George had another tremendous third quarter, but a failure to get stops and a failure to get help would allow Toronto to move ahead 74-66 at the end of the third.
Inconsistent officiating was a problem all night for both teams, and at the end of the third quarter, it started becaming one for the Pacers especially, as Kyle Lowry and Co. worked their way to the free throw line at will, allowing Toronto slowly build on their lead up to 19, closing out a 98-87 victory that allowed Toronto to tie the best of seven series at 1-1.
It was a sense of déjà vu for the Pacers in certain sectors, once again having no answer for Cory Joseph (16 points on 6-8 shooting) and Valanciunas (25 points and 15 rebounds). Patrick Patterson joined the party for Toronto, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-6 shooting as the bench unit helped the Raptors to a 45-33 victory on a night the Pacers did a good job limiting the effectiveness of Toronto's two best players shooting.
DeMar DeRozan once again struggled shooting at 5-18 with 10 points. DeRozan had a couple of baskets on Ellis to begin the second half, but was taken out of the game again when George was put back on him. George has completely had DeRozan's number in the series to this point and the combined shooting numbers of him and Lowry continues to be ugly, with the duo combining for 9-31 tonight.
Unfortunately for Indiana, Lowry remained effective even despite a 4-13 shooting night. Lowry had nine assists (four of those to Valanciunas) and a perfect 10-10 night from the free throw line, seven of those coming in the fourth quarter. As a whole, the defensive effort was there for the Pacers against Toronto, but it got sloppy late, with Toronto going a perfect 16-16 from the line in the final 13 minutes.
That was a big part in Indiana not being able to string together stops. Before garbage time, the Pacers had only two 4-0 runs in the second half, a number that could've easily grown with successive stops and an improvement on rebounding. Indiana was outrebounded 44-33, including 12-6 on the offensive glass. Crucial moments throughout the late stages of the game favored Toronto in the most simple of ways especially in drawing fouls and rebounding.
Paul George was fantastic yet again tonight, scoring 28 points on 8-15 shooting, going 10-11 from the free throw line and making DeRozan irrelevant, but Monta Ellis was the only other double figure scorer for Indiana with 15. Just three of those came in the second half after a big second quarter to help bring Indiana back from the 18-point deficit. Frank Vogel had his work cut out for him tonight with rotations when the Pacers were just 4-20 from deep and getting negligible games from nearly everyone else on the team.
Ian Mahinmi once again struggled in a big way with Valanciunas, finishing with five points on 0-6 shooting. Myles Turner was effective in his short amount of time, scoring eight points on 4-5 shooting, but both players were limited with sore lower backs, which if lingering will be the end of Indiana's chances to win the series. Solomon Hill struggled after a big Game 1, as did the offensive and defensive play of Ty Lawson. C.J. Miles had six, going 0-5 from deep. Rodney Stuckey had seven, but a 2-4 night from the line took away from his overall play.
Though even looking at how much of a collectively poor night the Pacers pieced together (in part due to Toronto's improved energy on both ends of the floor), Indiana had opportunities to be in this game late relying almost entirely on George for a second straight game. Unfortunately the playmaking abilities of George were limited due to everyone missing shots, Indiana still fought their way back from a pair of stellar opening blitzes by the Raptors.
The Pacers continue to do a great job limiting the shotmaking abilities of DeRozan and Lowry, but they need to find an answer for not only Valanciunas, but Joseph and Patterson, two players that have completely bailed out their poor shooting by going a combined 20-25 from the floor and 4-5 from deep. Indiana has to hope the change of scenery will work in the favor of their role players for Game 3, but taking back home court advantage in Toronto was a good first step in what can hopefully be a successful Thursday gold-out at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.