A stingy Indiana Pacers defence held the Toronto Raptors (16-17) at bay on Tuesday night. Managing a season-low 79 points in what was an 86-79 loss, the Raps shot just 37% (30-81) from the floor, including 26.3% (5-19) from three-point range. Outside of the 64 points provided by DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Patterson and Kyle Lowry, Toronto totaled just 15 points on 6-32 shooting.
The Pacers were able to dominate most facets of the game, out-rebounding the Raptors 53-36 and earning a 40-26 advantage in points in the paint (most of which came courtesy of a dominant Roy Hibbert). In fact, Indy boasted six of the game's top nine scorers. In that regard, it's remarkable that Toronto wound up losing by just seven points (they trailed by as many as 17).
Patterson's Big Night
DeRozan showcased some standout play in Indiana, particularly his remarkable stretch of 17 consecutive points in the third quarter, but Patterson was clearly the best Raptor on the floor on Tuesday. Patterson's 20 points on 8-14 shooting gave him four double digit games in his past five and further cemented him as the team's most consistently productive member of the second unit (not to mention the key piece that came the other way in the Rudy Gay trade).
The Defensive Effort
How do you stay in a game in which you get out-shot and out-rebounded? The Raps may not have helped their own cause offensively, but they stood their ground on the defensive end. On the strength of some capable perimeter 'D', Toronto held Indy to 1-11 shooting from three-point range and turned the ball over 16 times.
Shots Not Falling
Terrence Ross was 1-8. Amir Johnson was 0-5 (and held scoreless). Greivis Vasquez was 1-7. Jonas Valanciunas was 1-6. For a club that has improved so dramatically in their shot selection and ball movement, the visit to Indy represented a disappointing and perplexing setback. It's no coincidence that the Raps collected nine fewer assists (18 to 27) than in their 95-82 victory over these same Pacers on January 1st, a game in which they scored 16 more points on two more made shots (against seven fewer misses).
Against Hibbert, Jonas was hardly at his best. Not only did he allow the Pacers big man a team-high 22 points and eight assists, but he picked up five fouls and four turnovers along the way. Rarely has he been so over-matched, particularly of late.
How much havoc did the weather wreak on Tuesday night's Raptors/Pacers matchup? Travel issues interfered with the arrival of both clubs. The Pacers were stuck in Cleveland after winning there on Sunday night and did not return to Indianapolis until Monday evening. The Raptors, meanwhile, remained in Miami after losing Sunday night, catching a flight to Indianapolis Tuesday morning and arriving mid-afternoon.
After witnessing Tuesday's game, I feel that I didn't give the Pacers' Lance Stephenson enough credit in my All-Star piece from earlier today. While he may not be the best player on his team, his contributions are multi-varied (as evidenced by his near-triple double against Toronto) and he adds a much-needed edge to the title-contending Pacers.
The schedule finally eases a bit for the Raps, starting with a three-game homestand against Detroit, Brooklyn and Milwaukee, three teams with a combined 34-69 record. First up is Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, Andre Drummond and the Pistons on Wednesday night (7:00pm, SN).
Prediction: Raps 108, Pistons 98 (18-7 this season)