An impressive showing from the Indiana Pacers put them back in the win column, topping the Toronto Raptors at home to finally get a victory in the season series. The Pacers never trailed in the second half, putting their stamp on the game with timely shot making, rebounding, and a little bit of everything.
The Raptors came out tonight with all cylinders firing, shooting upwards of 70% early in the game, using back-to-back threes to end the first to go ahead 35-31. The Pacers did well to simply weather the storm, struggling to do much more than lead by just a couple points. They finally broke through midway through the second, with Kelan Martin exploding for 11 points in the final five minutes of the half.
Martin, along with Chris Duarte, helped spark Indiana’s bench to go ahead by nine at the break, allowing the starters to get the game into double figures early in the third. A tough stretch following a fast break gone wrong eventually drew Toronto back to within six, but seven straight Pacers points came as a perfectly timed response.
Toronto kept the game within reach, however, dominating the glass in the third to give themselves a number of extra opportunities. With the Raptors threatening down seven, Indiana came back into the game on the glass, getting back-to-back offensive rebounds and putbacks from Torrey Craig to help Indiana escape with a third quarter victory.
After a rough start to the fourth, rebounding again helped break Indiana out of a slump, with Martin following a Duarte miss to find Caris LeVert from deep to kick off a 9-0 Pacers run.
rewards for crashing the boards pic.twitter.com/iaVU6MDOI6— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) November 27, 2021
With the lead, the Pacers began to play more conservatively, which wasn’t a recipe for success against the Toronto defense. Fortunately, they were able to eke out just enough on the offensive end, along with some misses at the free throw line for the Raptors, to keep the game well out of reach as it reached its conclusion.
That ability to limit Toronto offensively proved a big part of their win. The Raptors had 35 first quarter points, but just 40 in the second half. Their shooting plummeted to just 41.6% after hitting 17 of their first 25 shots, giving the Pacers wins in each of the final three quarters.
Indiana came out on the right side of most categories, outrebounding the Raptors by 12, including 17-13 on the offensive glass. Second chance points made things that much easier for the Pacers, giving them a healthy 26-14 advantage off of those offensive rebounds. Not only did they find success on the glass, but in finding the right guy for baskets. Indiana had 31 assists, all nine players recording at least one.
Malcolm Brogdon led the way with 12 assists, looking to make his impact as a point guard rather than a scorer. He would eventually tick up to 11 points with a late, timely three, finishing as one of three Pacers with double doubles on the night. Domantas Sabonis led the way with 23 points and 18 rebounds, seven of those on the offensive end.
Late rebounds from Myles Turner also gave him a double double with 17 & 10, blocking two shots and going a steady 3-7 from three. LeVert had his best game perhaps of the season, scoring 19 points on an efficient 8-15 shooting. LeVert has shot career worsts in both three pointers and all around field goals, but was just 3-5 tonight, not getting sucked into doing too much with the ball, but also finding more success when he did.
The second unit proved the difference in tonight’s game, led by Martin with 15. Martin missed a couple of shots to start, but stuck with it, coming alive to end the half and providing a big boost throughout the game. The bench had 42 points total, including double figure nights from not only Martin, but Duarte (12) and Craig (11). Along with T.J. McConnell, all four guys off the bench had two offensive rebounds each, helping Indiana’s success on the glass. McConnell had just four, but had seven assists and three steals on the night.
The Pacers are still working to get themselves out of 13th place in the East, but the win moves them to within a half a game of Toronto. Beating the Raptors has also been a tall order on its own, making tonight a nice boost in getting them to three wins in their last four. Another tough matchup awaits Indiana at home, however, as they host the surging Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, winners of five straight.