The Toronto Raptors fell in a close game to the Indiana Pacers 96-89. The defeat comes on the heels of another close loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday.
Those two losses to the Eastern conference’s best teams pushed the Toronto Raptors under .500, with a record of 16-17.
Demar Derozan once again led the team in scoring, putting up 28 points to go along with 6 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal.
Patrick Patterson had another big scoring night off the bench, adding 20 points. Kyle Lowry was the only other Raptors to register double figures, scoring 16 points. He had just two assists against 4 turnovers.
Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson, who I said in The Rap Up would need to have good games to ensure a victory, came out and played their worst games of the season.
Valanciunas had just 4 points on 1/6 shooting and hit his only two free throws. Johnson fared worse, as he missed every shot he took and finished with no points and just 3 rebounds.
While the Raptors were able to keep Paul George in check to the tune of 11 points, Roy Hibbert lead the way for the Pacers with 22 points. He helped the Pacers to a 53-36 advantage in rebounds, the most obvious statistical discrepancy that tipped the scales in the Pacers favour.
Lance Stephenson was just 2 assists shy of his season’s fourth triple-double, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.
In their game last week, the Toronto Raptors were able to impose their will physically, and this game was just the opposite. Perhaps the lack of effort was due to a strenuous travel schedule, which saw the Raptors stuck in Miami for two days, only arriving in Indianapolis 5 hours before tip-off.
Whatever it was, last night’s output represents the Toronto Raptors lowest point total of the season. After flying high for the past month, the Raptors were dealt back-to-back reality checks by the two elite teams in the East.
Excuses won’t be acceptable when it comes to the playoffs, and hopefully the team is not brushing the losses away as a matter of circumstance. Regardless of the situation, a team always has to be ready, and the Toronto Raptors were clearly not ready for the Pacers last night.
The Raptors have a chance to get one back and even out their record tonight as they host the Detroit Pistons. I can only hope that Valanciunas and Johnson do not disappear again against the Pistons formidable front court.