The Toronto Raptors have had very few good moments on the road this season. They were just 5-19 entering last night’s contest in Indiana. One of those wins came at the hands of Pacers on their home floor. The Raptors managed to hang on to a win despite scoring just 5 points in the final quarter. The Pacers had won 16 straight on their home floor and had only 3 losses total all season at home.
This game was going to a script that would suggest the Pacers remembering that loss in November and exacting some revenge on the Raptors. Rudy Gay was struggling against the Pacers as he did as part of the Grizzlies in two contests earlier in the season. The Raptors were fighting from behind for most of the night.
The Raptors also were having to deal with a physical Pacers squad and not getting a lot of help from the refs. David West has always been a problem for the Raptors and he was again on this night. He led all scorers in this game with 30. Another problem was Paul George who even with Rudy Gay on him was still finding a way to contribute.
The Raptors would enter the fourth trailing by 8 points and it seemed were heading to an expected defeat. It was a case of roll reversal to start the fourth though. The Raptors did to the Pacers what many teams have done to them. They quickly erased the Pacers 8 point advantage.
Two of the people carrying the load for the Raptors were Rudy Gay and Amir Johnson who carried the load in the final quarter for the Raptors.
Tyler Hansbrough drew the anger of Raptors fans tossing Jonas Valanciunas to the ground and not getting even a foul call. Worse still was Jonas appeared to re-injury his broken hand. Both he and Kyle Lowry missed a large portion of the fourth but would eventual return. Lowry apparently was not injured just some strange roster selection from Dwane Casey choosing to ride John Lucas III for far to long it appeared.
Andrea Bargnani had a decent night off the bench and DeMar DeRozan was having a decent night and despite not getting a lot of calls was finding his way to the line. The Raptors would find a way to tie this game late and extend it to overtime.
That said with just one win in extra time this season the Raptors 26-18 fourth quarter performance seemed to be destined to end in failure. This was the first time the Raptors would have Rudy Gay in extra time and in the end that would make a difference as he landed the dagger shot with 1.7 seconds left in OT to secure the win for the Raptors 100-98.
While many fans were frustrated by the refs in this one the Raptors found a way to battle through and win. In the end that is what the Raptors need to do more of. You can sit back and complain about things but in the end that will earn you at best an apology from the league. In this game the Raptors fought through the adversity and found a way to win. That is progress and while it likely means little for the outcome of this season it is a sign for the future that is positive.
Rudy Gay showed that star like quality that even in a gem in which he struggled throughout he found a way to show up when it mattered most and became the hero at the end of the day. He shot 8-25 which is nothing to write home about but he had 5 steals one of which at the end of regulation that set up Amir Johnson for the tying basket to send it to overtime. Johnson had 14 points and 14 rebounds and really is playing like a guy that is becoming the heart and soul of this club.