In front of very few in Indiana the Raptors look for a 2 game sweep of the back to back battle with the Pacers. It would also win the season series 3-1 and give the Raptors their longest winning streak of the season of 6 games. They will have to do it without Demar Derozan missing in action and back in Toronto. Also no Hedo Turkoglu and it will be Weems and Belinelli getting the starts in relief of those 2 missing pieces. Raptors are rolling and looking to keep that going tonight in Indiana as the front half of a back to back with the Nets paying a visit to the ACC tomorrow. I will be there for that one. But like you watching at home on T.V. Indiana will be without it's head coach Jim O'Brien who had a death in his family.
Pacers get off on the right foot with a score from Granger in the paint. Raps had a slow start but Marco Belinelli would get a 3 ball to get Raps on board down 4-3. Raps were taking jump shots on offense and missing on most and the D was not exactly great the result an 11-5 Pacers lead. Bargnani gets a nice look from 3 and he nailed it. Team Italy getting it done as Marco would drive and draw contact and head to the line making both and it was now just 11-10 Pacers. But the Pacers would go on a 7-1 run and extend lead to 18-11 and Raptors were just 3 for 8 shooting the ball early on. Bargnani missed a pair at the line but the made a tough jumper on the next trip. Roy Hibbert former Raptor (sorta) was having early success he scored again and he was a perfect 4-4 with 8 points early and was the game's high man.
Raptors were getting worked inside and Pacers had a 22-15 lead. Bellinelli hooks up CB4 for a needed 2 points. Bosh and Bargnani would get rolling and bring the Raptors to within one. Bellinelli would give Raps first lead of the night 25-24. Marco would restore that 1 point lead with a basket he had 9 points in his first start as a Raptor. Bosh would score after that and Raptors lead was 3 and Bosh had 13. Defense was not in vogue in Indiana Bosh and Belinelli leading the way. Marco with 14 and Bosh with 13 leading the Raps to a 34-32 1st quarter lead.
Pacers quickly re-took the lead and started the second on 5-0 run. Raptors were 0-5 to start the quarter and had not scored a point in the first 3 minutes and counting of the 2nd Quarter. Pacers had not taken full advantage of things but had built a 39-34 lead. Rasho had 2 chip shots and missed both and Raptors still had not scored in over 4 minutes. Finally with 7:31 to go in the Half Rasho would end the drought. Despite the terrible start on offense the Raptors get a 3 from Jose and they were fortunate to be trailing just 43-40.
Pacers may look back on this quarter with regret as they have had a chance to bury the Raptors but instead held just a 6 point lead with Raptors playing about as bad as you can play. Turnovers, missed shots and just a poor effort for the men in the red uniforms in this 2nd quarter. Jarret Jack picked up his 3rd foul and Raps were down 12 as Head hits for 3 and the Raptors were finally paying for their lack of offense with just 8 points in the quarter. Pacers up 54-42. Raptors would make a bit of a push finally but it was not good still down 8 with a minute to go in the half. Marco Belinelli was having a strong night though and he would get an old fashion 3 point play to cut the lead to 7. CB4 looking good on offense to with a 20 point performance and 11 rebounds in the first half. Raptors rallied to make it 58-53 at the half. The Score was flattering to the Raptors.
You were starting to get the feeling this might be the Raptors night. Pacers scored the first 4 points of the second half and extended the lead to 9 points. Raptors looked very sloppy and were making a ton of mistakes. Pacers were taking advantage finally and extended the lead out to 12 points with 2 Danny Granger free throws. Pacer would continue to roll to a 81-61 lead. But it gets worse as Bosh picked up his 4th foul with over 6 minutes to play in the 3rd and Raptors down 81-64.
Raptors just looked flat and awful and in this 5 game winning streak the Raptors had made a habit of coming from behind but you did not get the impression that was happening tonight. Earl Watson was taking both Jack and Calderon to school and leading the Indiana charge. 92-75 with 3 to play in the 3rd and this was one of the worst effort from the Raptors in quite some time. Andrea Bargnani would try to lead a charge back but the defense was still very much MIA. After 3 Raptors with a TON of work to do down 100-86. What is it about teams playing with out the regular head coach they always seem to play well. No Pacers Head Coach tonight and no problems. Pacers shooting 57%....OUCH!!
Clipboards be afraid...Jay Triano looked steamed and rightfully so. As they have in ever Quarter Pacers start off on a run. Also things would get even worse Jose Calderon would go down and come up limping. Calderon once again looks to have been bitten by the injury bug. The irony Calderon appears to have turned his ankle by stepping on Jarrett Jack's foot. Marcus Banks where are you? Seems the Banks will be open in T.O for the next little bit. Meanwhile the scoreboard is not getting any better with Raptors down 21.
Andrea Bargnani would end up with a career high 34 but it would be in vain as the defense in this game fell way back to early in the season where the Raptors could not defend their own shadow. The Pacers would end up with a split of the season series 2-2 with a huge 130-115 win over the Raptors. The 5 game winning streak comes to a crashing halt.
Early word on Calderon is he went for X-Rays but safe to say barring some miracle of medicine he will be out tomorrow vs the Nets. I think the time has come to accept Calderon is injury prone. I got into on Twitter about this with some folks. Sure a turned ankle is a freak injury when you step on someones foot. But an ankle here, Hip Flexer there and a Hamstring it just goes on and on with Calderon. He only had one injury free year in what ironically was his contract year. Jose is ether unlucky or injury prone depending on how you see it. However it is becoming almost as predictable that he is going to get hurt as it was that V.C was. Thankfully Jose does not go into the whole Vince Carter I have been shoot business. Also Calderon to his credit or sometimes to his detriment will attempt to come back as soon as possible. Something V.C would never do. If V.C chipped a nail he was out a minimum 2 games.
On to the Nets tomorrow and some Raps fans will tremble with fear at the prospect of the Raptors losing. But if it makes you feel any better other than the Pre-Season game vs Boston, the Raptors have a perfect record when I am in the house covering the game. I will be there tomorrow and pretty confident the Raptors will be back in the winner's circle.