Buzzkill. That word wouldn’t leave my head as I joined a suddenly subdued audience of Raps fans departing the ACC. The building had been rockin’ much of the game, until the last few minutes, when the Raps’ offense disappeared. To lose by 2 after being ahead by 10 halfway through Q4 is buzzkill to the max. Lots of fans were well-costumed for Hallowe’en, but the ending was a Trick, not a Treat.
We’ll take it from the top: the player introductions were dramatic; in semi-darkness each man strode to centre court to wave. Acy & McGuire were in suits, but were introduced anyway. Rather than the overhead scoreboard, images were flashed on gigantic light frames on each half-court, which I’ve never seen before.
When the game finally got underway, it was a blur. Points were piling up early; with 8 minutes gone, the score was 25-22 Pacers, & it looked like both teams would surpass 30 before Quarter-end. Then the shots stopped falling, & the Q ended 27-25. Andrea Bargnani had 11 points, including a 3-ball on his first attempt, and looked aggressive on both ends of the floor. However, his scoring was just about done, as he ended with 16. His 3 blocked shots were a welcome sign that his defense didn’t desert him over the summer.
The game was tied at the half at 47. The Raps got excellent play in Q2 from Alan Anderson, who made 3 steals. I’m liking this guy a lot, although we need more points than none in 18 minutes. Landry Fields also had a donut in his first game as a Rap, missing all 6 shots he attempted. He didn’t make up for that in other ways, with 2 boards & 1 assist.
Q3 ended with the Raps up 8, as Ed Davis pitched in with his only 2 buckets of the game. His bad hands cost us a couple of turnovers, though.
Q4 is painful to write about. Jose Calderon made a pair of 3s, which pushed the Raps to their biggest bulge. For the Pacers, David West single-handedly kept them in the game, making 7 straight baskets down low
on his way to a game-high 25 points. The Raps scored their last field goal with 4:31 to play, when Lowry (more on him later) made a lay-up. They missed their last 6 shots, including a DeRozan driving lay-up which he left short at 44 seconds. The Pacers were the beneficiary of a controversial call with 22 seconds left, in which a missed George Hill jumper was tipped out of bounds. After a refs’ review at the monitor, the Pacers got the ball back, & Hill splashed a floater with less than 3 seconds to go. After a timeout, AB tried a fadeaway jumper to tie, but it wasn’t close.
Of our highly touted rookies, Jonas Valanciunas had a memorable debut. On his way to a double-double of 12 points & 10 boards, JV looked like the seasoned pro he is, despite his youth. JV did his best to neutralize Roy Hibbert, but doesn’t yet have the bulk to stand up to that muscular giant, who potted 14. JV scored on putbacks (6 Offensive rebs!), & short jumpers. Terrence Ross was first off the bench, missed his two 3-ball attempts, and sat down after 6+ minutes, not to return. An inauspicious start for TR, but he’ll find his feet.
Kleiza has clearly been dropped from the rotation, as he was the only Rap who didn’t step on the floor. Even Aaron Gray contributed with some useful minutes when JV, predictably, got in foul difficulty.
The Raptor of the game was undoubtedly Kyle Lowry, who filled every column, with 21 points, 8 assists, 7 boards, & 5 steals. The short, chunky Point Guard from Villanova looked in command in his Raps debut, and should have been rewarded with a W.
In fact, all of us who sold out the ACC last night should have been – but we weren’t.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.