The Indiana Pacers hung in there for a few minutes against the Toronto Raptors, but the final score didn’t lie tonight as the Raptors pulled away in a hurry to extend Indiana’s losing streak to three games. By hung in there, that’s largely thanks to the work of Oshae Brissett, who scored 11 of Indiana’s first 16 points, making it a two-point game midway through the first quarter.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, Precious Achiuwa and the Raptors unloaded from three point range, hitting six to end the quarter on a 23-5 run. Things didn’t get much better from there with Toronto extending their lead out to 28 with four minutes remaining in the second quarter when the game was delayed due to a fire concern with one of the speakers in Scotiabank Arena.
The safety concern led to an evacuation of fans and a delay of just over an hour before all parties involved decided it was a good idea to continue this game for some reason sans fans. Shockingly, the scoreboard didn’t change all that much as the two teams played to a draw to a protracted halftime, Toronto still leading by 28.
Indiana’s offense did show up early in the third quarter, connecting on three straight threes to open the second half, but as has been a common theme of late, the Pacers simply opted to not get stops, allowing the Raptors to lead by 25 after all of those shots went in. The Pacers never got any closer than 24 and would wind up losing by 40, their worst loss of the season.
The Pacers had eight available players tonight, shuffling Jalen Smith in and Goga Bitadze and Duane Washington Jr. out. That wasn’t the difference between winning and losing, but the bench in particular had a rough go of it, combining for just 16 points vs. 44 between Achiuwa, Chris Boucher, and Thaddeus Young off of Toronto’s bench. Lance Stephenson was the leading scorer with eight, but shot 2-11.
Brissett led the way for the Pacers with 21, pulling in eight rebounds with four steals. Offensively, the Indiana starters had plenty of positives. Four of the five starters reached double figures, including 18 points from Justin Anderson and 14 from Buddy Hield, each putting in four three pointers. Smith had 15 and the lone single digit scorer was Tyrese Haliburton with seven, but he led the way with 12 assists.
Defensively, however, it was another story entirely. The four steals by Brissett accounted for seven of Indiana’s nine points off turnovers, the Raptors committing just six total. The Pacers meanwhile had 14, a reasonable number by their standards (half of those came from the three bench players, however), but Toronto put in 22 points off of those miscues.
The Raptors also shot 60.7% on the night, the best of the season for them and also the highest allowed by the Pacers. The Raptors hit 15 threes, which was fairly low after they had opened the game hitting 10 of their first 15.
Despite being one of the more competitive losers in the league this year, three of Indiana’s last four losses have come by 30 points or more. It’s a poor trend that’s really 1, 2, 3 Cancun’d an already finished season. Without reinforcements, it doesn’t feel as if that will trend in a positive direction before the end of the year with six of their last seven games coming against teams in the thick of fighting for playoff (or play-in) positioning.
That begins with a two-game homestand starting with the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. The Hawks look to sweep the season series as the losses continue to pile up for Indiana, dropping their 50th of the year tonight for the first time since 2010.