In a game of runs, the Indiana Pacers came out ahead against the Toronto Raptors, using an 11-0 run to hold off a late Toronto push, extending their win streak to five games. The Pacers did a fantastic job throughout the night weathering Toronto runs in a truly back-and-forth affair.
Two big instances came at the ends of the second and third quarters, the Pacers able to score at the end of both quarters to minimize the damage in a bad second quarter and to push them into the lead at the end of the third. In the fourth, the Pacers maintained their lead before the 11-0 run, then overcame their own sloppiness to secure enough stops to finish off the win.
Much of the fourth quarter fireworks were set off by Lance Stephenson, who scored 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of back-to-back threes that sent the Fieldhouse into a frenzy.
Stephenson was not only key in his own play (including a very un-Lance like 4-4 from three point range), both for the Pacers and in antagonizing the Raptors, but did so in a leadership role with Victor Oladipo going out with a bruised knee. The severity of the injury is unknown, but the nature of the game didn’t necessarily require his return to action despite him walking around the sidelines late.
Oladipo had a team high 21 points, his running back style of play leading to the injury on a collison on a charge call in the fourth. On the first night of a back-to-back with a very good Boston team looming, any absence of Oladipo would be a major blow, but this Pacers team has shown to have plenty of options in leading the charge, though perhaps tomorrow wouldn’t be the best time to test such a theory.
Six Pacers reached double figures, including a nice bounce-back game from Darren Collison, scoring 17 points with eight assists. Collison’s assists proved a rarity for the Pacers, who won their first game this season when failing to tally 20 assists. They were able to do this by forcing Toronto into 20 turnovers on the game, leading to 30 Pacers points.
Stephenson’s fourth quarter was big not only for the Pacers win, but in giving some life to the second unit, which had an otherwise poor game. The bench tallied 31 points, but aside from Stephenson’s 18, the other 13 came from Domantas Sabonis, who shot just 2-10 from the floor. But Sabonis, along with T.J. Leaf, were big on the offensive glass, totaling six of Indiana’s 10 on the night.
Rebounding was key for the Pacers, who have historically struggled against the Raptors, especially Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas totaled only five rebounds thanks in large part to the rebounding efforts of Sabonis and Leaf, but also Thaddeus Young (who had three offensive boards himself) and Myles Turner, pulling in 10 rebounds, including a crucial one late to help set up Indiana for the win. Young had 13 points, a rebound shy of a double double.
Bojan Bogdanovic wasn’t the triple threat he’s been in recent games, though the Pacers didn’t need his contributions as much tonight, hitting 11 as a team while Bogdanovic was just 1-5. He was key, however, scoring 19 points on 8-16 shooting. His play, along with the rest of the team will be key tomorrow night, with or without Oladipo.
Tonight’s win makes the Pacers five game winning streak the second longest in the league behind Cleveland’s seven. They’ll put that streak on the line against the recently streaking Boston Celtics at home. Boston has had a scorching start to the season, sitting at 17-3 having recently enjoyed a 16-game streak of their own, making this a tall order for the Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back.