So J.O is a go and coming from off the bench. In my conversation today with D.J Bennett from Court Surfing we both are not believers that this can last. However for now J.O is saying and doing all the right things to this point. He really does not have much choice as Bargnani has been on fire. So for now it is a happy fuzzy feel good story. But the Raptors need wins much more then positive public relations. Jose Calderon is in Indiana but will only be an on looker as he watches the guy who's job he now holds in T.J Ford. It has been a similar story for T.J with injuries just as J.O has faced in Toronto. In fact in recent games Jarrett Jack has started with Ford coming off the bench. Not sure if they will have a Jack vs Ford feud with the Pacers. It doesn't seem as likely as Jack has been used a shooting guard as well. So it should be an interesting night in Indiana as the 14th place Pacers take on the 12th place Raptors.
So both principles in the big trade would indeed start looking on. The Pacers would get off to a decent start with the first 4 points of the contest. The Raptors meanwhile were not getting it done on the offensive end. Will Solomon would final bust the lid off the basket. He scored on a drive on a second chance opportunity courtesy of a CB4 offensive board. Moon would score and we were all tied at 4 almost three and half minutes in. For the Pacers this was unusual as they normal have no problem scoring they are one of the best in the NBA. They are also one of the worst defensively. Andrea Bargnani would get a basket in the post to take their first lead of the night. Solomon would score again and Raptors were on a long and drawn out 8-0 run. But it was more like a crawl. Jeff Foster was sent to the line and he split a pair to break the run. But Chris Bosh would blow by Murphy to get a Jam. Raptors had a 10-5 lead. Jim O'Brien did not like what he was seeing and called for a T.O.
Danny Granger who is getting a lot of All Star talk despite the Pacers bad record. He scored and Jarrett Jack would follow it up with another score. The Pacers would score again and on strength of 6-0 run to take an 11-10 lead. Chris Bosh would get fouled and sent to the line he would split a pair and we were even steven at 11. A Murphy three pointer would fall and change that even score. Bosh would answer with a score on the offensive glass as Jermaine O'Neal was waiting to check in for Bosh. The Pacer would respond and they had a 17-13 lead with T.J Ford in the game as he had checked in prior to J.O had. Jermaine took his first shoot and missed it he had received a real mixed reaction from the Pacers fans. Roko Ukic who had been playing well lately would drive and score to pull the Raptors back to within 2 points. Raptors would get a steal by Moon but Raptors just took it back and Ford advanced it to Jack for the score. Andrea Bargnani would make his way to the line driving and drawing a foul. Here would make both from the line. Ford would get himself to the line but miss his first and make the second. The Pacers hold a 20-17 lead late in the first. Andrea Bargnani would do what he has been doing nailing a big 3 pointer. He had a chance to give the Raptors the lead but that one would not fall. So it was all even at 20 after one quarter on play.
Not a classic first quarter for sure but at a pace that would favour the Raptors you might think. T.J Ford would open the quarter with a jumper for the Pacers. Jason Kapono would answer for the Raptors with a 2 point effort. Granger scores for the Pacers and Joey Graham had a highlight reel dunk showing off for his twin brother Stephen who plays for the Pacers. Joey would pick up two quick fouls after the impressive dunk. That is your typical Joey G performance. Danny Granger would head to the line and make a pair as the Pacers lead 29-24. Joey Graham now had his 3rd foul and that was it for him. Roy Hibbert technically the Raptors first pick checked in he was part of that trade along with Nathan Jawai who has yet to play for the Raptors. The Pacers would build the lead up to 7 points with another basket and their offense was showing signs of getting back on track.
Chris Bosh would get to the line and split a pair. Roy Hibbert would respond with a basket for the Pacers. Bosh would get sent to the line driving past the slower Hibbert. He would make a pair from the line. But the Pacers were rolling on offense as they would score again. However Moon would have a rare drive and score plus the foul that he would make. Raptors had got back to down just 5 with the score 35-30. But an easy dunk for Murphy off a screen and roll. It would set off a 6-0 run as the Raptors made some silly turnovers. It was 41-30 Pacers with a time out called by Jay Triano.
Out of the time out Bosh feed it to Bargnani in the paint with the one handed hook shot that falls. But the Pacers were getting whatever they wanted on offense. The Pacers would keep on rolling and they had their largest lead of the night off a Granger score in the paint. It was a 14 point lead with the score 46-32 for Pacers. Jay Triano was desperate to make something happen and decided to go with the 3 big line-up as J.O checked in. The team would shift on defense to zone with the big line up. Raptors would cut the lead back down to 10 points. They had a chance to cut it to single digits but instead they would commit their 11 turnover of the night and we were just in the first half. Troy Murphy had an open look from the 3 point line that he would make. Indiana was up 51-38. But it was not done there they would make another 3 pointer to build the lead by even more. This was an ugly and pathetic effort on defense from the men in the red jerseys. The big three experiment was over and had little impact as Indiana was at the line and extended the lead to 14. The Raptors were getting beat down by a Pacer team that was second last in the East. Pacers would have a chance to extend the lead going in to the half but the would not be able to make it happen. Still after being tied after one the Pacers would be happy with a 56-42 lead. That is 36 points in the 2nd quarter for all of you math majors out their in Raptorland.
The 3rd quarter begins with a Jamario Moon air ball and that was not a good sign. A turnover after a rare missed Pacer trip. The Pacers would score the next time down. Andrea Bargnani would come down and make a 3 pointer that was historic. It was the 10 game in a row he had made multi-three pointers an NBA record for a center. Jarrett Jack would get a long pass after yet another Raptor turnover and it lead to the easy lay-up. It would get worse with a three pointer from Danny Granger and his team had it's largest lead of 19 points.
Raptors would get 3 straight points and pull back to down 66-49. I am going to be straight up honest this team was playing with no pride or heart what so ever. However The Pacers must have just been tired for a sec cause they were pack to scoring and build the lead back to it's highest point up 71-51. The lead was growing at an alarming rate with the score 75-51. Will Solomon would hit a 3 pointer just to prove the Raptors actually could get a basket. I mean when you work at this everyday and you really run out of words that speaks to how bad this is. Matt Devlin and Jack Armstrong on T.V and Paul and Eric on the Radio were earning their money on this night. Josh McRoberts would loose it and get a technical foul. Raptors were not getting much closer though as it was 81-59. Raptors offense was pathetic and the only thing worse was their defense. This game was starting to look like something you could see at your YMCA with guys jacking up shoots on both sides. I really feel for Jay Triano this had the same feeling as the game that cost Sam Mitchell his job in Denver. The main difference was the Nuggets just had more talent to run up the score. Danny Granger just may be an All Star this year and as much as it sucks to say it Chris Bosh may not be. Stephen Graham was out performing Joey Graham and man for man the Pacers were out playing the Raptors. T.J Ford would make a shot and it was 87-63 Pacers. The 3rd Quarter was finally over with the score Pacers 89 and Raptors 65. If you stopped reading and skipped to the end at this point I would understand. If I didn't have to write about the 4th quarter I would not. But hey, this is what makes you hardcore right? Or maybe it is insane, none the less it is only one more quarter to endure.
Raptors were shooting a pathetic 36% from the field and deserved that beating they were getting. Chris Bosh never stops trying I will give him that. He got the first basket of the quarter for the Raptors. The Raptors actually started the quarter with the best effort of the night so far. But it was far to little and far to late. Despite the fact that the Raptors had pulled back to down 89-72. There was a lot of smack talking and why I am not sure. Pacers would get sucked into another stupid technical foul. Raptors had rolled off an 11-0 run and that was the good news. Here was the bad news. They were still down 13 points and most of the fans had long turned off their T.V sets if they had any good sense.
The Raptors if they had played anything close to the effort we had seen in the first 3 minutes of this quarter they may have had some chance to win this game. Greg Foster would end the 11-0 Toronto run with a easy drive to the basket and score. The Raptors have no hope so guess who has his game pick up? You know the answer it is Joey Graham with 8 points and 7 rebounds. Make it 8 and 8 for Joey. Bosh would get a couple baskets and he was having a solid 4th quarter as well. I still don't believe the Raptors can come back in this game. However they were not playing with the lack of pride and energy they had in the middle two quarters. To be fair the Raptors did a average job in the first quarter. Raptors had a 17-5 run going but still were down big with under 6 minutes to play down 94-82. Bargnani would make a 3 pointer and the Raptors got it to a single digit lead. But just when you may have started to believe Mike Dunleavy would hit a 3 pointer in response. Raptors still kept coming though. Parker would get a basket and Andrea Bargnani would make his way to the line. He could only split a pair. Raptors were down 98-89 with 4:11 to play. Parker would make a pair from the line and it was 98-91. T.J Ford checked back in got a steal and a score and the Indiana lead was back to 9. Jason Kapono hits a 3 pointer and the Raptor amazingly were down 100-94. They had taken a 24 point Pacer lead to start the quarter and chopped it down to 6 points. I feel bad now saying people should not have read the 4th quarter summary.
Andrea Bargnani would get fouled and would get a chance to get the Raptors even closer with 2:36 to play. He could only split a pair. Indiana had gone ice cold and a Jack miss gave Raps a chance to cut lead even more. But a turnover the 19th on the night would not be what was required. But the Pacers kept missing. Bosh would get to the line with 1:37 to play. He made both and if you can believe it this was a single possession basketball game. A Pacer turnover and the Raptors could tie it with a 3 pointer. I can not remember a more wacky basketball game in my life. One of the things Triano had done was put Parker in to play at the point guard and it was having success. Parker would make a jumper to cut the lead to 1 point with the score 100-99.
If the Raptors could pull this out it would be the biggest comeback in team history. Pacers had the ball with 57 seconds to play. A costly foul on Chris Bosh that would send Mike Dunleavy to the line for 3 free throws. It was a pump fake that Bosh bit on and he would pay the price. All 3 were made and the Raptors would get called for a travel by Jason Kapono and the dreams of a comeback were dying fast. Danny Granger making a shot would likely seal it as the Pacers now lead 105-99. It was a fitting game to mark the half way point of the season in a lot of ways. It was totally frustrating on so many levels. Much like the season to this point. Jason Kapono would hit a 3 pointer and the Raptors just would not go away. Forced to foul now the Raptors sent Jack to the line and he would make a pair with 19 seconds left. Kapono would miss another 3 pointer out of the time out and now I think we can safely say this game was done. It is just to strange for words what went on here. I mean the Raptors had a really brilliant 4th quarter. But that would be lost by the way the played in the first 3 quarters and most notable the second quarter that may have been on of the worst of the season that has seen a lot of them. Jarrett Jack would put this game on ice at the line. The Pacers get a big scare but hang on for the win. The final score was 111-104 for the Indiana Pacers and the Raptors fall 9 games below .500 on the year. Here is one of the more screwy boxscores you may every see in the NBA.
Things do not get any easier for Toronto as Steve Nash and Shaq who is looking a bit reborn of late come into Toronto for an Afternoon visit to the ACC. That is not going to be easy in any way shape or form. I am emotionally spent so that is it for me. I will try to get a blog up tomorrow as I am busy doing a Radio appearance for the guys on CJLO and Live Blogging to NCAA games on the Score. Duke and Georgetown and UNC vs Miami. You are welcome to pop by and say hello and start your scouting for the Raptors and your NCAA pool as well. Go to The Score website and click on LIVEBLOGS and you will see the games listed.