Toronto Raptors: 3 takeaways from late win over the Indiana Pacers

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Coming into their Eastern Conference showdown, the Toronto Raptors were shorthanded, missing three of their key players. It didn’t matter as they were still able to defeat the Indiana Pacers.

From the start to very late in the contest, the Toronto Raptors trailed the Indiana Pacers. Coming into the matchup as the third seed in the Eastern Conference, the visitors were looking to rebound after a tip-in loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on the first leg of the back-to-back.

The Raptors made it a pair of late loses in as many nights as they returned home to Scotiabank Arena, outrunning the Pacers, 99-96. The win, ending a two-game losing streak, was led by the lone active Raptors’ superstar and a late-offseason addition.

Kawhi Leonard is largely unstoppable

In the spotlight with Kyle Lowry battling injuries, Kawhi Leonard once again showed that defenses cannot plan for him.

In his career, Leonard has been one of the league’s most consistent scorers. Though the monster stat lines and 40-point efforts have often evaded the wing, he has made a large impact on both ends.

Now, as part of the Toronto Raptors, Leonard has even added rebounding to his résumé, averaging a career-high 8.4 rebounds per game prior to the contest. Tonight, Leonard registered his second-straight double-double with 28 points and 10 boards against the Pacers. The forward also chipped in six assists to lead the team in all three categories.

The scoring tally was a game-high mark, with Leonard scoring all of his points at the line and inside the arc, nary a 3-point make.

Even the Pacers’ Thaddeus Young, with a height advantage, was unable to stop Leonard driving to the hoop, with the latter adding a poster to his box score:

Outside of his offensive impact, the former San Antonio Spurs’ mainstay tallied a game-high four steals, adding to the Raptors’ total of 15 in the game, a single-game high for the club this year.

The final frame is when Leonard proved his value.

In the fourth quarter alone, Leonard scored nine points and led the charge for a Raptors’ squad that trailed most of the game, including a 17-point deficit at one point.

Leonard’s 659 points in his first 25 games as a Raptor are the third most for any player in the franchise’s history.

There’s a reason Leonard won Most Valuable Player in the Spurs’ 2014 Finals run and the Raptors are experiencing his impact more and more.