Jan 7, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) is guarded by Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) and center Roy HIbbert (55) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers 86 - Toronto Raptors 79: Leaden legs

The Toronto Raptors pulled into Nazareth Indy/feelin’ ’bout half-past dead. Unfortunately for them, they had a court date with the Indiana Pacers. The predictable and dreary result was a Raps defeat, one in which our big men were invisible, and one of their bigs wasn’t. DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson provided what little offense the Raps could muster, but Pacers’ centre Roy Hibbert’s scoring and defending was too much to overcome.

Jan 7, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) makes a pass after tripping over Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Toronto 86-79. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto started the game well, or perhaps Indy came out flat. Either way, the Raps jumped out to a 11-4 lead early in Q1. Sadly, Toronto shooting turned as frosty as the temperatures across our continent, and the Pacers enjoyed a 16-2 run. They gained the lead, and never relinquished it.

The Raps simply couldn’t get any points from Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson. JV ended up with 4, and Amir had a donut. By contrast, Hibbert made 11 of 12 free throws on his way to a 22 point night. He also had 3 of Indy’s 8 blocked shots.

Greivis Vasquez had a giant ice pack halfway up his leg in the first half, but returned to play some decent moments. Several times the unit was the four tradees from Sac-to and DeMar, an odd configuration necessitated by the trouble coach Casey was having in finding anyone who could score. Terrence Ross was 1 for 8 shooting, though he defended and rebounded solidly. Kyle Lowry was fouled on a 3-ball attempt late in Q2 – and missed all 3 free throws! It was that kind of night. Without DD’s ability to make contested jumpers, and Patterson hitting from inside and out, the Raps would have been embarrassed.

I’m going to avoid pushing the panic button about this game. The NBA is a “the show must go on” league. The Raps were dog-tired after a delayed flight and didn’t get to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse until 5:00, two hours before tipoff. They never quit, and outscored Indiana in Q4, but couldn’t hit the miracle 3-ball they needed to make the home team sweat.

Let’s hope the Raptors are able to get some rest, as the Detroit Pistons are at the Air Canada Centre tonight.


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