Nov 8, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay (22) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Toronto 91-84. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Pacers 91 – Raps 84….Rudy plays great, & we still lose – now what?

To enjoy a puncher’s chance against a strong and balanced Indiana Pacer team, the Toronto Raptors need to have their #1 unit firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, that was not the case last night in Indianapolis. DeMar DeRozan wasn’t hitting his jump shots, but the Raps played brilliantly in the first quarter anyway, rolling up a 32-22  lead. However, the second unit had to come in at some point, and they were dreadful, missing shots by the boatload. DD’s shot didn’t benefit by his time on the bench, or anything else, and he finished the game a miserable 2 of 15. Rudy Gay’s best game of the season, and perhaps as a Rap, was wasted.

The Raptors coughed up the lead in a dreary third quarter in which they managed 13 points, one fewer than Q2. The Raps did mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, whittling a 14-point deficit to 6 when Terrence Ross hit a 3-ball with a minute to play. Toronto’s faint hope of a miracle was damaged when Indiana responded with a bucket. Steve Novak then missed a three, Hibbert grabbed the board, and we were out of time.

Dwane Casey’s stubbornness about playing a small lineup was not the problem in this loss. Jonas Valanciunas played 36+ minutes, and though he didn’t have the offensive game we might have liked (he rushed several shots, which is not surprising considering he was taking them with shot-blocker Roy Hibbert in his face), he didn’t look overmatched either. Hibbert was more efficient than I’ve ever seen him, pouring in 20 points on 9 of 14 shooting. Some nights the other guy is better. Indiana’s other force, small forward Paul George, didn’t have the range early, but hurt the Raps later by taking the ball inside on his way to 23 points.

While the Raps enjoyed effective play from Kyle Lowry (8 assists, several of them spectacular, and 12 points) and Amir Johnson (a double-double), Rudy was superb. Pouring in 30 points on 12 of 26 shooting was wonderful, and he also added 3 each blocks and steals.

This game was a disappointment for Raps fans, but hardly a surprise. Indiana is chock-full of youthful, talented veterans, and are a legitimate championship contender. Toronto is still trying to find its identity as a team.

The Raps are home tonight against a team which was expected to be bad, and is, the 0-6 Utah Jazz.

Brian Boake is Senior 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.

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Tags: DeMar DeRozan Indiana Pacers Jonas Valanciunas Rudy Gay Toronto Raptors

  • Guy

    I remember making a comment in one of your pre-season articles about how I hoped Casey would stay away from the ‘wholesale line change’ we saw last year, in which he would take the starters out & go with reserves. What did we see in this Indiana game? The Raps were up 12 in the 1st half due to great play from the starting unit, but rather than trying to maintain that lead, & possibly add to it, by sticking mainly with starters & using spot substitutions, Casey went with 5 bench guys & the 12 pt lead was lost in the space of 4-5 minutes. They were playing a road game against one of the best teams in the league, & Casey felt a lineup of Augustin, Ross, Fields, Hansbrough & Aaron Gray was going to keep Indy at bay. It was one of the dumbest decisions Casey has made in his time as Raptors coach.

    Casey made a poor decision in the closing seconds against Charlotte. The amount of small-ball we’ve seen TO play this year, keeping JV from valuable minutes, is a direct result of Casey allowing the opponent to dictate his rotations. If it continues like this, I don’t see how Ujiri would keep him around after this season.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Guy:
      I hear you, loud and clear. Basketball isn’t hockey; taking everyone off the ice and throwing out new people is the norm in that game, but not in hoops. Casey needs to work his second-unit people into the game slowly.
      I said in my “in focus” post on Dwane Casey that he’s respected as a man, but only mediocre with Xs & Os. I wish he’d stop proving me right. I agree that Ujiri will not hesitate to turf him if he thinks the kids are stagnating, or he’s playing too much small ball.
      Thanks for commenting.