It appeared the Indiana Pacers may have stayed up a little too late on New Year’s Eve as the squad looked tired against the surging Toronto Raptors. At the end of the night, the Raptors had pushed their win streak to four and stopped the Pacers in their tracks.
In typical fashion, the Pacers lost (95-82) on the back-end of a back-to-back. Only two of their six losses have not come during a back-to-back and that was when they lost to the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat.
The loss can be pinpointed to two things: 22 turnovers by the Pacers and a decent shooting night for the Raptors.
Turnovers have been Indiana’s Achilles’ heel for the past two seasons. This year they had made strides in that department, but just like last night, the turnovers still pop up. Off those 22 turnovers, the Raptors were able to score 32 total points, including 17 fast break points.
A strong shooting performance by DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross helped push Toronto to victory at the end of the game. While the team only shot 43.6 percent from the floor, including 36.8 percent from three-point range, it was their free throws (20-of-23) that put the nail in the coffin.
Indiana suffered on the offensive end as Paul George was unable to make anything happen. He finished with a woeful 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Roy Hibbert added to the defensive woes by staying in foul trouble the majority of the game and played only 21 minutes.
But in the end it was the Raptors who simply outplayed the Pacers. Both teams were on a back-end of a back-to-back and had to fly into Toronto the night before, so it was a pretty even matchup in that regard. Since the Rudy Gay trade, the Raptors’ offense has become more fluid – who didn’t see that coming – and they have won eight of 11, including wins over the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder and now Indiana.
Indiana gets a couple days off before playing four games – back-to-backs – in five days. Overcoming the adversity that cost them what should have been another dominant victory will tell a lot about this team. Nothing comes easy in the NBA, and the Pacers can’t take any games for granted.