The Indiana Pacers got straight up worked tonight against the Toronto Raptors, snapping their six game winning streak, dropping 2 1⁄2 games behind the first place Raptors, and losing the season series to Toronto should a tiebreaker pop up late in the year. At no point could the Pacers corral in the Raptors offense, and unlike recent shootouts against lottery teams, the Raptors had no trouble halting the Pacers on the other end when they needed to.
The Pacers took the lead early in the second quarter allowing 37 in the first, but Indiana’s second unit faltered from that point, allowing the Raptors to flip a deficit into a double figure lead on a 12-0 run. The Pacers would spend the rest of the half cutting into the deficit only to have Toronto push it back into double figures.
Indiana got their end of the game’s flow to end the half and opened up the second with their best stretch, showcasing confidence offensively and purpose defensively, tying the game at 72-72. Then Danny Green hit a three. Pascal Siakam scored four straight, including two off of a Pacers turnover. Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry hit three straight threes.
Suddenly, the tied game was a 12-point one again and the Pacers struggled to close the gap in the same fashion. Indiana did have an opportunity in the fourth when they trailed by nine, only to come up empty on three consecutive possessions only to see Toronto run off an 6-0 run as a response. In total, the Pacers went scoreless for three minutes, and didn’t manufacture a bucket that wasn’t a putback for five minutes.
When they finally did, Toronto emphatically put a cap on the game in the fashion they did all night, by hitting a backbreaking three pointer. That was the most glaring difference in the game. Toronto went 17-33 from three point range while the Pacers were just 4-17. Toronto let it fly with a purpose while the Pacers let their hesitation get the better of them, bricking shot after shot while the Raptors splashed home seemingly every attempt they took.
The Raptors had five different players hit multiple threes, three of those players shot perfect, including a 3-3 night from Normal Powell, who led the Raptors with 23. Powell, joined by Greg Monroe and Delon Wright, made quick work of the usually respectable Pacers second unit, who were unable to adjust with Domantas Sabonis getting moved into the starting lineup sans Myles Turner.
There wasn’t much to write home about with the Indiana second unit. Kyle O’Quinn had solid numbers with nine points, seven rebounds, and four blocks, but he did so as part of a chaotic bench performance that begged for Sabonis’s stability. Cory Joseph failed to step up as a scoring threat, leading to a messy 2-8 night from Tyreke Evans and a lot of shot faking and passing by Doug McDermott, who didn’t attempt a single shot from beyond the arc.
All five starters did reach double figures, including a 16 & 11 double double from Sabonis and a pair of near double doubles from Bojan Bogdanovic (21 & 9) and Thaddeus Young (14 & 9). Unfortunately, even though it was the Raptors who entered on the second night of a back-to-back, it was the Pacers who faded as the game went on especially from Bogdanovic, Victor Oladipo, and Darren Collison. After scoring 38 between the three of them before the break, they combined for just 10 second half points, which quickly drops to five after Indiana’s fast start in the third quarter.
The Pacers scored 35 on over 60% in the first quarter to keep pace with Toronto’s blistering start, but mustered just 42 second half points, finishing at 45.7% on the night. Toronto’s zone was effective in slowing down the Pacers, who couldn’t break through often enough to threaten them, and there wasn’t the confidence necessary from deep to give them a puncher’s chance.
Given the circumstances heading into the game with Toronto being on the second night of a back-to-back and resting Kawhi Leonard, the Pacers had no reason to not make it a better showing, but the absence of Turner was felt through the entire rotation and the Curse of Scotiabank Arena is alive and well as the Pacers drop their 11th straight regular season game in the North.
After a pair of frustrating losses in Toronto, it will be interesting to see whether the Pacers can salvage anything from the season series when it shifts to Indianapolis on January 23. In the meantime, the Pacers still have work to do on their current five game road trip, heading across Lake Erie to face the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are the only other team to beat the Pacers in the past month.