Paul George had 22 points and 10 rebounds, David West had 15 and 11 and the Indiana Pacers beat the Toronto Raptors by a score of 93 to 81 on a Friday night in Toronto. Rudy Gay had 21 points for the Raptors (23-36), who have now dropped four straight.
The first quarter was rugged to say the least, as the Raptors put up just 13 points. In fairness, the Pacers scored only 17, and we expected a defensive battle from the outset. Rudy Gay travelled about 23 times, and the bench crew had apparently come to the conclusion that the best way to bounce back from a horrific Wednesday showing was to chuck up a bunch of long, contested two’s. Alan Anderson somehow managed to rack up 3 personal fouls in 4 minutes.
The second quarter was slightly better, as it saw the Raps break the 20-point barrier. Andrea Bargnani actually hit a jumper which was a welcome sight, and he also got a pair of free throws, so hopefully that’ll help nurse his shot back to relevance.
In the third, the Pacers got a few lucky breaks as the game opened up. With Amir Johnson out due to foul trouble, Roy Hibbert went to work and the Pacers put up 25. In the fourth, Paul George hit three of four from distance and Dwane Casey threw in the towel about halfway through. Rudy Gay did have 6 straight points, but he came down hard on one play and hurt his lower back, so he sat out the rest.
1. Rudy Gay. In a game where buckets were at a premium, Rudy dropped 21 in 32 minutes, shooting decently as well (7-of-16, 7-of-7 on free throws). The only other Raptors to break 10 points were Alan Anderson and John Lucas, and most of their points were in garbage time. Rudy’s shot is great cause he gets so much elevation, although sometimes I feel like that hurts his shot, because gravity throws it out of control. Anyway, that thought is for another blog.
2. I’m giving this to Andrea Bargnani, because he looked alive today. When he fakes the three and steps in for a 17-footer, it’s impossible to guard and his percentages aren’t that bad. The problem is that when he’s rattled, the pump fake will likely result in a travel or a steal, so he’ll stay put and chuck up a three. Andrea was also (kind of?) active on the defensive end. Ok, well I remember he had one huge block on David West.
3. The Indiana Pacers. This team has been my dark horse pick to win the championship for a while now, and I stand by that assessment. I love Paul George as a player because he’s a shutdown defender against powerful small forwards (I’m thinking of one particularly talented small forward in the East…), and his shot is sauce. David West is also a great player to have on your team because he does so many things right. Both West and George are excellent ball movers, so the rest of the squad won’t go stale like the Heat bench often does (which is ok for the Heat because they have Lebron James and he’s pretty good).
1. DeMar DeRozan. He had an off-night and was woefully inefficient (even from the line), but those games happen I suppose.
2. Amir Johnson. He fouled pretty much anything that moved, although in fairness this was a rough, physical game. 2 points and 3 boards won’t cut it for his fantasy owners, though.
3. Tyler Hansbrough, because he’s a hack. There was no revenge ploy from Jonas Valanciunas tonight for Hansbrough’s ridiculous roughhousing last time these two teams met, but JV did grab 9 boards on the night, and I’m generally happy with the way he’s playing these days.
The Raptors are in action tomorrow against the Milwaukee Bucks, in what is realistically their last chance at making a playoff push.