The Indiana Pacers had their losing streak extended to four games as the Toronto Raptors completed the home-and-home sweep with a purpose. The Raptors outscored Indiana 51-43 in the second half, stifling Indiana’s offense late to close out the game. The Pacers led only briefly in this one, spending much of the night battling back and surrendering shot after shot when they managed to cut the game to a single possession.
Indiana’s lone second half lead; opening the half with a Jeremy Lamb bucket that put them on top 65-64, was immediately erased by an OG Anunoby three pointer. The Pacers would tie the game three more times in the quarter, but fell behind for good when four turnovers in their next six possessions, allowing the Raptors to go up by nine on a 9-0 run.
The Pacers finally strung together some stops to end the quarter, but could only muster up five in the final 2:51 to cut the lead to four. Domantas Sabonis cut the deficit to two early in the fourth then proceeded to allow Toronto to score on their next five possessions, holding Indiana at arm’s length with a 101-97 lead.
After watching Toronto torch Indiana’s defense, Myles Turner was put in the game, summarily blocking Terence Davis at the rim. That block eventually set up Doug McDermott for a layup that put Indiana down just two with 6:47 remaining. However, just as Toronto had done all night, they made all the right decisions, finding a wide open Serge Ibaka behind the arc to...well, hit a wide open three.
It kickstarted a 10-1 Toronto run that pushed Toronto up double figures for the first time in the game. With an opportunity to respond, Victor Oladipo ended the run with a deep three, but after getting a rare stop, Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon missed back-to-back three point attempts while Davis slammed home the dagger on the other end.
Not enough adjustments were made by the Pacers tonight in containing Toronto’s offense. Either the Raptors were able to bully their way inside for an easy two, or they would easily find the wide open shooter for a timely three pointer. The Raptors hit 17 threes tonight on 17-38 shooting, while the Pacers stumbled to just 10-34 themselves.
That included a 2-10 night from Oladipo and Brogdon combined. While Oladipo played his best ball by far to start the game, scoring seven first quarter points, his offense fell off a cliff in the second half, putting up just four after the break on 1-5 shooting. Brogdon meanwhile continues to be lost in the wilderness offensively. Not only was he a dreadful 1-8 shooting in the second half, he and Oladipo combined for seven turnovers.
Indiana had 20 as a team, led by Sabonis with six. On the bright side, the Raptors held just a three point advantage in points off turnovers tonight, but still managed to score 18. The real problem is that the Raptors had 12 steals. That allowed Toronto to completely control the fast break game, outscoring Indiana 27-6.
While the Pacers have really struggled adjusting to Oladipo’s return, the decision making has become more and more perplexing, especially against Toronto in these last two games. When the Pacers haven’t been bewildered by presses and zones, they’ve been perplexed by other areas. Turner in particular was pass first tonight, eager to find the extra pass even when he was the recipient of the pass.
As a result, he took just four threes, making one, and often times finding Oladipo for a shot that, with all due respect to Oladipo, isn’t an ideal shot right now. Toronto also had a hand in shuffling Indiana’s rotations, forcing McMillan and his staff into finding a patchwork lineup that can provide energy, shotmaking, and defense, none of which seemed to exist in either of these two games.
The second unit, along with Sabonis, once again had the best go of it against the Raptors, getting double figure nights from both T.J. McConnell and Justin Holiday. Holiday led the way with three blocks while McConnell had seven assists and two steals, but missed opportunities haunted the unit, with Doug McDermott going 2-7 from deep, missing some key open shots, shots that Toronto had no issues making all night.
The Pacers, in desperate need of a win, will have a quick turnaround as they host the New Orleans Pelicans tomorrow night. The Pelicans have fared better since the debut of Zion Williamson, going 4-4 with him in the lineup. The Pacers meanwhile will be playing their first game without Oladipo since his return as he will sit out the second night of a back-to-back.