The Toronto Raptors finally found themselves on the right side of a close game. Losing by 4 points with 8 seconds to play, Rudy Gay’s wild layup try was put back in by Amir Johnson. Rudy then intercepted the in-bounds pass at half-court, and Amir drained his own miss as time ran out. Much to the dismay of the Indiana Pacers and their fans, this game, shockingly, was going to overtime. Rudy then stuck the dagger in with a jumper over Paul George, the Pacers’ desperation shot at the OT buzzer rolled out, and the Raps bounced off the floor with an unlikely victory.
It’s hard not to get excited about this win, as there were so many positives. The Raps’ fourth quarters recently have been disastrous, but tonight they made up an 8-point deficit to force the extra period. Rudy’s shooting was in the freezer in the first half – he was literally talking to himself after missing a layup. However, he did what coaches have been saying since Dr. Naismith nailed up peach baskets – keep taking good shots, and they will start to fall. Fortunately, fall they did, as Rudy scored 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Raps’s offense had stayed afloat throughout the game because DeMar DeRozan took up the slack. He bounced back from a poor effort against Boston with 22 points, attacking the basket fearlessly and hitting his jumpers. Andrea Bargnani also enjoyed a solid effort, scoring 14 points on 7/10 shooting. While his rebounding was non-existent (well, OK, two boards in 29+ minutes), his defense was passable. He has not been a liability since his return from injury, and if he’s sulking about his reduced role, he’s hiding it well. The guys who got after it on the boards were Amir, with 14, and Jonas Valanciunas, who was a welcome sight grabbing 13. Both men dropped in 14 points as well, scoring on putbacks and jumpers. If this is the future of our front court, I like it.
Kyle Lowry’s effort can’t be faulted, particularly on D, and he did dish out 6 assists. However, we need more than one basket from our starting point guard. Terrence Ross continues to struggle with his shot, going 1/5, although the basket was a 3, one of just two the Raps mustered on the night.
The Pacers’ 15-game home winning streak came to a screeching halt. Indiana was led by Raptor-killer David West with 30 points. Paul George, their talented wingman, added 26, highlighted by 5/10 from distance. Roy Hibbert, the Pacers’ giant centre, was supposed to be the NBA’s next great big man, but he has been a Bargnani-grade disappointment. He scored 6 points, and pulled down 3 boards. Pitiful.
The Raps return home to face the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night.
Brian Boake is a co-editor 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.